Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A factional autobiography (one that blends fact and fiction, based on the author's life) set in Norvelt, Gantos' childhood hometown. I love Norvelt, even when it's populated by characters a little too kooky to be believed, like the Rumbaughs. That's a slight problem here, where Jack seems to be the only normal one here - of course, that could be his perception of things, and who are we to argue?
There's a lot of history thrown into the book, in the form of "talks" with Miss Volker about the town and its residents and in the Today in History column in the newspaper. Readers who haven't really encountered Eleanor Roosevelt before may be confused by the importance she has in the town, and there's nothing here to help explain it. There may also be some questions about who the Hell's Angels are (since they've faded somewhat from our consciousness). As for the mystery of the deaths and fires, let's just say I would have loved the book more had that been a larger focus than Jack's being grounded for the summer had been.
Copy provided by publisher.