Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Dead End in Norvelt is a semi-autobiographical novel by the author Jack Gantos. So, it is not a true autobiography, rather it is a work of fiction based on real events and things from Jack Gantos’ life. At the beginning of the book, we meet Jack who is twelve-years-old in the summer of 1962. He lives with his parents in the small town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania. Jack’s summer is not off to a good start, though. He accidentally shot off his father’s Japanese rifle in the backyard and has been grounded for the entire summer. Jack is not allowed to leave his house at all for the whole summer, but there is a stipulation. He can leave to help out his elderly, arthritic neighbor Miss Volker. Due to Miss Volker’s arthritis, she has a hard time using her hands so she needs Jack to help her out around the house and also with her duties as town coroner. As the coroner, Miss Volker needs Jack to drive her to wherever there is a dead body in town and he also helps her by typing up the town’s obituaries. Jack expects that his summer is going to be a boring one. Let’s face it, how many people are going to wind up dead in one summer? But Jack’s summer is anything but boring! First, the old ladies of Norvelt are dropping dead one after another and this leads to a murder mystery investigation. Jack’s father also decides to restore an old plane, Jack has a run in with the Hell’s Angels, and there are house fires and nosebleeds galore! And that’s not even half the story!
Dead End in Norvelt is a great read for summer. It’s an easy read that is laugh out loud hilarious. If you love to laugh and enjoy weird stories, then click here to find Dead End in Norvelt at the Library!
Also, check out this interview with Jack Gantos where he describes more about writing Dead End in Norvelt and how it is based on some real things from Jack’s life and why he wanted to write this story.