Gantos, Jack. Dead End in Norvelt. Book Review.

Click here to buy Dead End in Norvelt (Norvelt Series)

Although this book is copyrighted 2011, it has the feel of a book written decades ago. It would appeal to young adults who are interested in stories with historical flavor. The narrative takes place during the Cold War. Gantos captures the flavor of small-town eccentrics during an unusual time period of American history.

The protagonist, 12-year-old Jack, suffers from spontaneous nosebleeds whenever he is stressed. As you would expect, this puts a big crimp in his social life. Through an unfortunate series of events, Jack is grounded for the summer, his only social outlet helping an elderly, peculiar woman who, in tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt, insists on writing long-winded and eclectic obituaries for the original founders of the town of Norvelt.

What promises to be a long and boring summer takes a sharp turn into the strange and disturbing. Why are so many of the elderly suddenly dying? Is Jack’s father building a bomb shelter or a airplane landing strip and why? Will the motorcycle gang continue to seek revenge upon the town for the death of one of their own by burning down the homes of its citizens one by one?

Mostly zany, often insightful, Dead Ends In Norvelt is an unusual book that will interest young and old readers alike.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages