Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos
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 fiesty 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 launced 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. (description from Amazon.com)
This was a strange and weirdly wonderful book. Told by Jack Gantos, this is a fictional autobiography...very weird indeed. These two months in Jack's life, have a very, very strange tone that kept me captivated even as I was trying to piece together exactly what was going on.
The story starts with a series of seemingly unrelated events. As the tale spins on, though, both Jack and the reader begin to piece things together and all these strange things meld into one wild tale! I couldn't wait to see what happened next...
I also have to tell you that I listened to this as an audiobook and the author reads it himself. Jack Gantos has this slightly quirky voice that just fit this book perfectly. It was a great audiobook! I am so glad I experienced the story that way. I highly recommend it.
Full disclosure: Audiobook received at BEA 2011.