Dead End in Norvelt
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Dead End in Norvelt (Norvelt #1)

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  10,553 ratings  ·  2,133 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...more
Hardcover, 341 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Okay for Now by Gary D. SchmidtA Monster Calls by Patrick NessWonderstruck by Brian SelznickDivergent by Veronica RothInside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Newbery 2012
14th out of 166 books — 643 voters
The Giver by Lois LowryHoles by Louis SacharA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleNumber the Stars by Lois LowryBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The Most Deserving Newbery
63rd out of 93 books — 1,923 voters


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Community Reviews

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Trudy
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...more
Wendy
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.
Flannery
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
Caren
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
Lea
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,...more
Betsy
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
Terri
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
Lisa
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
Michael
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
Walt
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
Angela
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...more
Kathryn
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.
Brian
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...more
Elizabeth
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...more
Emily Crowe
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!
Donalyn
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.
Morrigan
‘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
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...more
Cheryl in CC NV
What an odd story. Brilliant, but it definitely will make you think. I mean, it's a nice family story, but it includes a murder mystery. I like the Kirkus review on the back, that describes it as a 'provocative gothic comedy.'

The family is happy, but Jack is caught in the middle of serious spousal disagreements. Well, at least that's how Jack sees his family. But he is a kid, and the author has minimized his own 'voice' in order to let Jack tell us about this summer from Jack's point of view.

I d...more
Susie
I adored this book, and was sorry when it was over. Somewhere (twitter? titletalk? a listserv?) I heard a recommendation for the audio book, read by Gantos, and was so glad that I experienced it that way. Even the title works on so many different levels. I was a huge proponent for Okay for Now for the Newbery, but I can now see why this won. There are interesting parallels between the two books: male main character in the '60's, important relationship with a much-older non-family member who impa...more
Maeve
Grounded forever! That is what Jack believes when his mother grounds him for the entire summer after he follows his fathers orders and mows down all of her growing corn stalks. His mother sentences him to grounding for the whole summer, no baseball, no friends, and no free time. When all Jack thinks he can do is sit around the house and read his historical books, his mother sticks him with another grueling task. Helping out the elderly neighbor. Miss Volker had very arthritic hands and needs hel...more
Dodie
Jack Gantos makes my stomach hurt - from laughing! After I heard him talk about Dead End in Norvelt at ALA New Orleans, I couldn't wait to dig in and what a reward I got. Based on his life growing up in Norvelt PA (which still exists today), Gantos tells the story of being the scribe for the arthritic but still spunky Miss Volker, chief historian and obituary writer for the local paper. Round this out with a nutty dad who buys a plane and builds an airstrip at their house, a loving but distracte...more
Jessica Floyd
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...more
Tirzah
Let me start out by confessing I only read Dead End in Norvelt because it won the Newbery. Now I am not one of those who only read popular books that won awards or are the New York Times bestseller list. I read other books too, but I do read Newbery winners since I am curious to see what the ALA deem as "winnable."

Although the book held my interest, I did not really get into the storyline or the characters as much as I would have liked. It was sort of a different book. It does hold lots of hist...more
Linda Lipko
This 2012 Newbery medal winner is stellar!

Based on an actual community in Norvelt, PA, told from the perspective of teen aged Jack, the reader has a keen sense of life in a town that once thrived, but now is crumbling as the elder folk die and new, younger people move away.

Jack's father longs to move. Jack's mother loves the old fashioned ways of the community and does whatever she can to remain.

Grounded for the summer, Jack is only allowed out of the house in order to help others. When he becom...more
paula
I made it to page 12 of Dead End in Norvelt before I was giggling so loudly that my family made me stop and read aloud to them. You may not get that far.

Jack Gantos writes two kinds of books: good books and great books. (Also Love Curse of the Rumbaughs, which might be either, but which is so spectacularly weird that it's hard to tell.) Dead End in Norvelt is one of the great ones, for sure. It concerns an eleven-twelve-year-old boy named Jack Gantos who lives in a New Deal planned community in...more
Genine Franklin-Clark
A really cool neato jet book! Okay, I guess it's a Y A book, which I usually avoid, as I'm an O A, but this was required reading for my Friends of the Library book club, and I'm delighted it was. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

A strange coincidence (these happen so often that it's a good thing that I'm resistant to woo woo theories and beliefs): The kid in this story was helping write obituaries, and so is the main character in another book I'm currently reading, Death and the Penguin.

Donna
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
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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. Gantos has won a number of awards, including the Newbery Honor, the Printz Honor, and the Sibert Honor from the American Library Association, and he has been a finalist for the National Book Award. His newest book, The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs (2006), deals with twins, euge...more
More about Jack Gantos...
Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (Joey Pigza, #1) Hole in My Life Joey Pigza Loses Control What Would Joey Do? I Am Not Joey Pigza (Joey Pigza Books)

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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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