Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
After the last Newbery Medal book I read almost killed me, I figured I needed to take it easy by reading a much more recent winner. Dead End in Norvelt won the medal in 2012, so I figured I was safe.
The book is autobiographical, telling the story of Jack Gantos when he was a kid in Norvelt, a town that is being slowly dismantled in the 1950’s. After getting in trouble for shooting his dad’s rifle, Jack is grounded for the summer, though he is let out to help his elderly neighbor lady write surprisingly political obituaries for all the old folks…who seem to be dropping like flies.
This book is part murder mystery, part historical fiction, part classic adventure, part comedy. More than anything else, it’s a reminder to not let the past completely fade away.
To me, the book felt a bit all over the place, but it was quick moving and certainly enjoyable. The narrator has a very true voice (and a very BOY voice. I have a feeling this book does really well with young male readers). I don’t know if I would choose it as the best of the year (though I didn’t read the other nominees, so that’s a statement without any real grounding), but it’s definitely fun.