Dead End in Norvelt

Dead End in Norvelt

3.7 (21,162 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 
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Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year's best contribution to children's literature and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction!

Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is grounded for life by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with a most unusual chore--typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder.

Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 145 x 211 x 30mm | 431g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0374379939
  • 9780374379933
  • 344,914

Review quote

"This is a brilliant book, full of history, mystery, and laughs. It reminded me of my small-town childhood, although my small town was never as delightfully weird as Norvelt." --Dave Barry

"A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character . . . Jackie Gantos." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A fast-paced and witty read." --School Library Journal

"A more quietly (but still absurdly) funny and insightful account of a kid's growth, kin to Gantos's Jack stories, that will stealthily hook even resistant readers into the lure of history." --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (BCCB)

"This winning novel, both humorous and heartwarming, takes place during the summer of 1962, when narrator Jack Gantos turns 12 and spends most of his days grounded. Jack's main 'get out of jail free card, ' and one of the novel's most charming characters, is Miss Volker. The blossoming of their friendship coincides with the blooming of Jack's character." --Shelf Awareness Pro

"There's more than laugh-out-loud gothic comedy here. This is a richly layered semi-autobiographical tale, an ode to a time and place, to history and the power of reading." --The Horn Book, starred review

"Gantos, as always, delivers bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws." --Booklist

"An exhilarating summer marked by death, gore and fire sparks deep thoughts in a small-town lad not uncoincidentally named 'Jack Gantos.' The gore is all Jack's, which to his continuing embarrassment 'would spray out of my nose holes like dragon flames' whenever anything exciting or upsetting happens. And that would be on every other page, seemingly . . . Characteristically provocative gothic comedy, with sublime undertones." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Nobody can tell a story like Jack Gantos can. And this is a story like no other. It's funny. It's thoughtful. It's history. It's weird. But you don't need me to attempt to describe it. Get in there and start reading Gantos." --Jon Scieszka, founder of and author of the Spaceheadz series
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About Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos has written books for people of all ages, from picture books and middle-grade fiction to novels for young adults and adults. His works include Hole in My Life, a memoir that won the Michael L. Printz and Robert F. Sibert Honors; the Joey Pigza series, which include a Newbery Honor book and a National Book Award Finalist; Dead End in Norvelt, winner of the Newbery Medal and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction; and the Rotten Ralph series.
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Rating details

21,162 ratings
3.7 out of 5 stars
5 26% (5,526)
4 35% (7,400)
3 26% (5,543)
2 9% (1,842)
1 4% (851)

Our customer reviews

Reason for Reading: The book is this year's (2012) Newbery Medal winner and I always read each new winner as I'm working my way through the entire list. I had never read this author before. Having never read Jack Gantos before, honestly I've never looked past the titles of the others, I didn't know what to expect from this award winning novel. I was very pleasantly pleased. While set in Pennsylvania (in the existing town of Norvelt) the book is written with a typical Southern flare including a cast of eccentric characters. The book is suitable for those tween years (10-14) and made for a very engaging read. Since the boy in the book is named Jack Gantos and the author bio on the back cover tells us Jack actually grew up in a town called Norvelt we can probably surmise that this tale contains some biographical elements of the author's own childhood. A coming of age story, this book focuses on the summer a boy turns twelve, he has been grounded for a serious mishap for the entire summer. The motley cast of characters include his neighbour to whom his mother hires him out to help write the obituary's for the town's original settlers, Mrs. Volker is crippled with arthritis of the hands and has lived an exciting life which she shares with Jackie both through conversation and the obits. There is crazy old man Spizz, who is like the town's by-line enforcer and he rides around town on a giant adult tricycle. Jack's best friend, Bunny, a girl his age who is half his size and is meaner and tougher than almost any guy around is ticked off that Jack can't play at all this summer. With being grounded to his room, Jack spends a great deal of his time reading, having an old set of Landmark History books, he quickly reads through those and imparts what he's read and thought cool back to the reader. This really endeared him to me as I went through a period in my life in which I read all those books too. Another thing about Jack, which some readers may find odd, but also endeared me to him right away is that he has numerous nosebleeds. His seem to come on whenever he gets uptight, nervous or scared. Then his nose blows a gaskets and bleeds everywhere. Medically the capillaries are too close to the surface in his nose and need to be cauterized but his poor family has to save up, very slowly, for this. I too had constant nose bleeds as a child and right up into my mid-twenties, for the exact same reason! Mine were brought on by climate changes. Hot/sunny one day, chilly/damp the next and I was sure to have a nose bleed. They occurred where ever I was: on the bus, in the movies, walking down the street, etc. I was told about the operation but my bleeds just gradually stopped when I moved to a much higher altitude and they've never returned even though I've returned to the low altitude. This was my type of book, along with the quirky characters, add in a running theme of death, wry humour, a possible murder going on, strange events going on in his Dad's workshop, and you have an exciting, never dull story of a boy coming of age, of a town trying not to die, a family that loves one another and a place where neighbours still care for each other. A good read. I'm enticed to at least take look at Ganto's other books, more
by Nicola Mansfield
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