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Dead End in Norvelt (Norvelt #1)

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,724 Ratings  ·  2,763 Reviews
Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year's best contribution to children's literature and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction!

Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for akid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacationexcitement are shot downwhen he is "groun
Paperback, 341 pages
Published March 29th 2012 by Corgi Yearling (first published September 13th 2011)
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Mar 08, 2012 Trudy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dead End in Norvelt was selected as the 2012 Newbery Award Winner. About ten years ago, I made (and met!) a goal to read all the Newbery Award winning books from the inception of the award in 1922 to that date. Since that time, I look forward to the announcement of the year's Newbery winner so that I can read it and keep my achievement current. Winners of this prestigious award are quite often remarkable literary works (as one might expect), but sometimes the selected book makes me shake my head ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
There are authors you suspect must be dead. Face it, when you haven’t heard anything from an author in years, you think they must have passed on and perhaps you just missed seeing the obit.

I thought Jack Gantos was dead. Well, I thought he was dead until I saw him at last fall’s Texas Book Festival, alive, amazingly, with Elvis Costello glasses and shirt and pants, like was an image straight from the Kennedy sixties. Oddly, he wasn’t a geezer, either, just a older fellow, very close to my own ag
I got impatient with this about halfway through. Occasional moments of clever brilliance, but Newbery-wise, I can't see this standing out in a field that includes Okay For Now. Also, the punk kid with quirky elderly neighbor plot ought to be locked in the vault for the next ten years or so.
Jack Gantos is the perfect narrator for his own work. This book is partly autobiographical, partly fiction, and totally wacky. We received a review copy of the audiobook from Macmillan Audio and from the onset, I knew only that it was a Newbery Award winner and that Norvelt was the name of the town in which the main character lived, so basically nothing. (It also won the Scott O'Dell Award For Historical Fiction) I enjoyed Gantos' voice acting but I couldn't put my finger on what it was about hi ...more
Feb 07, 2012 Caren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
I see that the reviews for this book are all over the place. I actually really enjoyed it. I don't think it is the best thing I ever read, but it is highly entertaining and a change from the angst-ridden books that often garner the Newbery Medal. It kind of reminded me of some of Richard Peck's books ("A Long Way from Chicago" and "A Year Down Yonder")with the quirky characters and humorous situations. I had really enjoyed Mr. Gantos' Joey Pigza books, and this one follows that format of having ...more
I received this as a GoodReads FirstReads giveaway win.

"Dead End In Norvelt" is a book by Jack Gantos about a boy named, well . . . Jack Gantos. The blurb on the back of the book says it's a mix of truth and fantasy, but it's difficult to see where one leaves off and the other begins!

The book begins some time during the early 1960s, with young Jack Gantos earning a summer long grounding after accidentally shooting his father's rifle. Unable to spend the days playing with his best friend, Bunny,
May 01, 2011 Betsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What makes Jack Gantos tick? It’s a question that haunts every book he writes, from the simplest Rotten Ralph to his own YA autobiography Hole in My Life. It’s a talent to write compelling characters, but what if the most compelling character of them all is the author himself? With each Gantos tome I find myself coming back to this question: Why is Jack Gantos the way he is? To be fair, I suspect the man is asking himself the same question at the same time. How else to explain the Jack Henry boo ...more
May 20, 2016 Paula rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review contains spoilers - I'm not a good enough writer to express my displeasure with this book without revealing plot points.

OK, so I am definitely not on the "Dead End in Norvelt" bandwagon. Not only do I not understand how this book won the Newbery, I'm not really sure why it even got published. A lot of folks on Amazon are quoted as thinking it funny, charming, a fast read. It was none of those things for me. I slogged through it right to the end, and I will say, I was rewarded. Beca
What was the Newbery Committee thinking? I wish I could give this Newbery winner 3 and a half stars, but that's not an option and, sadly, it doesn't deserve 4 in my mind. Readers will find Jack and the wacky characters who fill his life in 1960s Norvelt, a government-sponsored social experiment in western Pennsylvania, funny and will enjoy the read. However, an award-winning novel for children or adults should be more than amusing. It should have a universal, worthwhile theme and dynamic charact ...more
Aug 25, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
Fabulous middle grade historical fiction book that was hilarious. My 10 year old daughter might not get everything but lots of the history she learned in 4th grade. It's a fun read! Don't let this "kids" book deter you as an adult from reading. Great recommendation from GR friend, Tina.
Oct 28, 2012 Brian rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
Dead End in Norvelt is one of those lazy novels that tries to rely solely on eccentric, irreverent characters to carry itself. I have no problem with a bit of eccentricity (in fact I'm partial to it) but when EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER is a total nutcase it has the opposite effect: it makes for a boring book.

Jack is launched 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 pa
It's the summer of 1962 and Jack Gantos has been grounded by his mother. It's not for ruining multiple shirts because of his frequent nosebleeds (Jack's nose opens up anytime he's feeling nervous or unsettled). Instead it's for plowing under his mother's corn field, even though he was just following his father's orders. His mother planned to use the harvest corn as a barter instrument and food supply for those less fortunate in the small town of Norville. Jack's father wants to use the field for ...more
Feb 29, 2012 Walt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
DEAD END IN NORVELT is a cornfield plowed under. It is bloody bad. It reminds me of a bomb shelter waiting to be annihilated. And it has about as much usefulness. I didn't like it; I don't recommend it much. But then, I'm not among the demographic for which it is written. I'm no kid. Rather, I stem from the era it is set in. In 1960, I was twelve years old. So I believe I know something of the time period. At least, I do from an old man's perspective looking back and remembering. And that's one ...more
Jonathan Peto
Over the years, I’ve read a few Jack Gantos’ articles or speeches in The Horn Book magazine and have really enjoyed them. One must have appeared there when this book won the Newbury Medal, because I remember it stating where he wrote it: the Boston Public Library. That and many other things got this on my to-read list.

Gantos is a quirky writer, it seems, with a schtick and a suit and a lot of intelligence. He aims his books at boys, and teaches at Emerson College, or did. He also has a serious c
The Newbery Challenge continues for me – but it is definitely in spite of this title! I nearly gave up on “Dead End in Norvelt” countless times while reading it. I honestly cannot understand why this book would ever be considered a Newbery winner. True, there were parts of the story that were quite humorous; the entertaining and often quirky narration of the main character, together with the comical dilemmas in which he consistently finds himself, had me laughing aloud a couple of times. Howeve ...more
Lisa Nocita
Dead End in Norvelt offers up a historical comedy that chronicles one summer in the life of young Jack Gantos living in Norvelt, Pennsylvania. Gantos writes a funny, off-beat, and nostalgic tale about childhood growing up in the shadows of World War II, a simpler time in many ways, but also one marked by impending change. You have to like a character who loves "to sniff the insides of books...Because each one has its own special perfume." And who firmly believes that "history isn't dead. It's ev ...more
Jul 08, 2011 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
I was lucky enough to experience this via Advanced LISTENING Copy. This means I got to hear Jack Gantos do Jack Gantos. It was a genuine summer treat.

The real charm here is the colorful cast of characters that include Jack's parents, childhood friend, neighbors and quirky community members. While there is a grim aspect to the story, there is thoughtfulness in the historical bytes and socialist ideals that contrast to a burgeoning capitalist community.

I don't mean to make it sound too fancy. It
Feb 26, 2014 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, 2013
This book was really, really good! I have the opportunity to meet the author, Jack Gantos at the library and wanted to have read something by him before attending. I am so tickled I did. This is the story of a summer of his life when he was ten years old. He helps Miss Volker write obituaries for the newspaper and so much more. I true delight to read.
1.5 stars.
Let me begin by saying that ROTTEN RALPH is one of my favorite read-aloud picture books, and I even have a copy signed by Mr. Gantos from when I was in preschool and he came to visit...but DEAD END IN NORVELT is no ROTTEN RALPH. I ended the book with a big "huh?" tattooed on my thought-bubble. I read another review that said this is the sort of book that's targeted to get little boys to read...and I guess I can see that...but from the beginning I was confused as to how old the protagon
Jessica Floyd
Dec 11, 2013 Jessica Floyd rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: group-discussion
Summery-Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos is about about a boy named Jack who is grounded for life by his parents who are constantly fighting. Jack then starts a very unusual job for his older nieghbor, he is actually writing obituary entries for the newspaper. This plot is very unusual and filled with a lot of different scenarios that includes rich historical facts.
Text- The text in this novel is very racy and should be saved for older readers. I don't think I would even have the older reader
Jul 27, 2015 Tina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a last second audiobook pick for me because: a.) it was available to download from the library and b.) I was looking for something not too heavy to listen to on the road rather than doing my best singing impersonation of Pat Benatar in the car for 3 1/2 hours. I rarely listen to audiobooks because I tend to "check out" if the narrator is not great. Hate to ruin what might be a good book with a mediocre narration. So, this was a a leap for me into what might have been murky water.

Emily Crowe
Aug 04, 2012 Emily Crowe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just picked up the audio of this book for $5 at a second hand music store in town and I'm about halfway through the first disc. With all of the critical attention this book received, I'm looking forward to the rest of it.

Once I figured out that Jack Gantos the author was being intentionally funny, and that he'd written the character of Jack Gantos as unintentionally funny, the book took off for me. This was a fantastic audio book experience!
Mrs. Stock
Dead End in Norvelt is a story about the author's youth and the town he grew up in. It is part fiction and part nonfiction. I thought this book was very slow moving. If I get caught up in a good book, it will usually take me only days to finish, but Dead End in Norvelt took me weeks! The story itself is enjoyable and fun to read, especially if you like learning about the history of small town America.
Reads like a hot mess at first with bizarre, seemingly disconnected characters and events, but Gantos pulls it together and builds something brilliant out of it.
Edward Sullivan
This is Jack Gantos at his best. Weird, funny and endlessly entertaining. If you're a fan of his Jack Henry and Joey Pigza books, you'll love this one.
Feb 23, 2014 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hey, Gantos boy! Well done! I loved this book. I think it is wonderful that it is a coming of age tale about an eccentric young boy and some interesting characters from his small town but knowing that the small town is just down the road from me made it all much more intriguing. This book is peppered with a lot of comedy throughout and has a nice little mystery in it as well. I really enjoyed reminiscing about the days when I was a kid and we actually went outside to play with other neighborhood ...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Feb 11, 2012 Mary Ronan Drew rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos. Children's books have always been didactic, since books expressly for children surfaced in the 17th century. They have been used to teach children to read and to entertain them and the temptation to teach lessons has often been irresistable. Fairy tales, Hans Brinker, Heidi, Uncle Remus, Pinocchio, The Wizard of Oz, and Peter Rabbit - all reinforce the lessons adults want children to learn. Unselfishness, generosity, religion, truthfulness, obedience, and ther ...more
Aug 11, 2011 Morrigan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-read
‘Dead end in Norvelt’ is a semi-autobiographical and semi-fictionalized story about a boy, Jack Gantos, who spends his entire summer grounded. He is volunteered by his mother to help a elderly neighbor. He becomes her typist as she dictates obituaries of the original Norvelt residents. Jack eventually looks forward to helping her each day, not only as a way to get out of the house but, also because he is deeply interested in the stories she has to tell. The story develops to tell some very funny ...more
Mari Anne
Dec 27, 2011 Mari Anne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mg-ya
2 stars for this very odd, pseudo auto-biographical YA novel. Written by Jack Gantos about a character named Jack Gantos, this books draws you into the very strange town of Norvelt. Apparently Norvelt was the brainchild of Eleanor Roosevelt and was supposed to be a utopian answer to poverity and sub-standard living condtions. Many decades later the town, and it's older inhabitants are beginning to die off, some of them suspiciously.

The story itself was quirky and funny and would have made for d
Barb Middleton
I finally finished this book and not because it was bad. Quite the opposite. I kept writing in my reading log all the one-liners I liked -inking up 13 pages. Then I started to read the first chapter out loud to the grade 5 classes - many laughing hysterically at the outlandish behavior of the characters. There are 8 classes and it takes 10 days to see them all - throw in the fact I got bronchitis and it got dragged out another week - but voila, I am finally done with the 2012 Newbery Medal winne ...more
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Jack Gantos is an American author of children's books renowned for his portrayal of fictional Joey Pigza, a boy with ADHD, and many other well known characters such as Rotten Ralph, Jack Henry, Jack Gantos (memoirs) and others. Gantos has won a number of awards, including the Newbery, the Newbery Honor, the Scott O'Dell Award, the Printz Honor, and the Sibert Honor from the American Library Associ ...more
More about Jack Gantos...

Other Books in the Series

Norvelt (2 books)
  • From Norvelt to Nowhere

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“...who proved that you don't have to do what your parents want, or what your boyfriend wants, for you to be happy. You just have to be yourself, for there is no love greater than self love” 14 likes
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