This book is really, really funny (think 12-year-old boy humor, a.k.a. "A Christmas Story") and had me laughing out loud repeatedly. Its characters are quirky - some likeable, a few sinister. The plot - which includes a good deal of corpses, nosebleeds and Hell's Angels - kept me wondering and speculating until the end.
In short, it's a clever, funny read that I would recommend, especially for boys!
Personally, I didn't find it to be necessarily on par with most Newbery books I've read - but it was most definitely worth my time.
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.