Book Review- Jack Gantos- Dead end in Norvelt

What if your summer vacation started by being grounded for the entire vacation?  In 1962, that is precisely what happened to Jack Gantos.  His only respite from his punishment occurred when he was allowed to assist his arthritic older neighbor, Miss Volker, in her chores.  For most kids this would have been the vacation from hell but Jack Gantos was able to find the humor in this unique situation.

Young Jack actually enjoys helping Miss Volker; besides learning about the town’s history and improving his typing skills, he begins to mature as a person and understand some of the unusual dynamics occurring in his town.

This story is told from the younger Jack’s viewpoint; I think any age readers will enjoy seeing the town through his eyes.  I found myself laughing out loud over some of the situations Jack experienced.  I especially loved him secretly sneaking into an elderly woman’s house to see whether she was alive while dressed in his Halloween costume as the Grim Reaper.

The book is for Middle School readers on up through adults.  Basically it is for anyone who has survived being 11 years old.

Jack Gantos.  Dead end in Norvelt.  Farrar Strauss &Giroux, NY, NY. 2011

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