I think some of the early descriptions of this 2012 Newbery award winning novel have not done it justice. They seem to describe it as a complex mixture of features but actually its a logical and creatively told story of a young boy (who cares if he shares the author's name) set in the past generation who befriends an elderly woman who has the responsibility for writing obituaries. As her hands wear out, he becomes her scribe. As he scribes he hears these wonderful stories about their lives and Gantos successfully weaves in wonderful historical anecdotes. In many ways it reminded me of Richard Peck's A Year Down Yonder and the recently read The Mighty Miss Malone. Humorous storytelling with lots of humanity. My only concern was the dark humor turn at the end when a quiet logical flow to the end would have made more sense and made for a stronger novel. The inter-generational friendship and the historical references get lost in a reversed arsenic and old lace detour.