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Dead End in Norvelt

(Norvelt #1)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  20,746 ratings  ·  3,473 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 a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "g
Hardcover, 341 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Satin Lee Yeah she had arthritis and it made her hands move more were you not paying attention
julia Yes. It is called 'From Norvelt to Nowhere'. …moreYes. It is called 'From Norvelt to Nowhere'. (less)

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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  20,746 ratings  ·  3,473 reviews

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Trudy Nye
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
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
Oct 31, 2011 rated it liked it
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. ...more
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
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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,
Feb 07, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jan 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
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. Becau
May 16, 2012 rated it liked it
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
May 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
The Girl with the Sagittarius Tattoo
I laughed so much during Dead End in Norvelt! This one's a sure thing for those who like nostalgia, Americana, youthful innocence, idealistic parents/elders, and wacky humor.

This semi-autobiography is about 12yo Jackie Gantos, a resident of Norvelt - a town Eleanor Roosevelt founded where residents were meant to trade goods and services with each other rather than use money. In the summer of 1962 there's one person in town who only accepts cash payment: the mortician. Bunny Hopper, Jack's best f
Lauren Stoolfire
Dead End in Norvelt (Norvelt #1) by Jack Gantos is one of those middle grade books I honestly wish I could have read when I was much younger. I think it would have really been right for me when I was about 11 or 12 years old. Looking at it now, though, it doesn't quite work for me as much as I would have liked it to. There are moments when it's really great, but for the most part I would just classify it as solid humorous historical fiction. You know, this is actually the first Jack Gantos book ...more
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Libby May
Mar 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I did not enjoy this book at all. Jack's parents drive me nuts, and there's way to much talk of the devil, curses, and of course there are occurrences of God's name in vain.

I DNF this one.
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Sarah Booth
Dec 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
A guy writes about growing up in a dying town and helping his neighbour to write obits. A wonderful read with history and coming of age themes. I will look for more from this author.
Jonathan Peto
Jun 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
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
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, newbery
Winner of the 2012 Newbery, this entertaining semi-autobiographical tale tells of an America now long gone. Set in 1962 in a government-planned town as part of a program spearheaded by Eleanor Roosevelt to help Americans live decent, middle-class lives, it’s much more a tale of Depression-era New Deal progressivism, that’s sadly such a bad word today, than it is of small-town ‘60s America. It’s the beginning of summer, and twelve-year-old Jack has just accidentally fired his father’s looted “Jap ...more
Lisa Nocita
Dec 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-2011, tag-2012-13
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
Aug 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
Other people like this book. I can't imagine why. Although I have many complaints (the murder of a half dozen people is played for laughs, the father is psychotic but no one seems to notice, the book somehow manages to also be boring) let's focus on just one: the casual use of a particular slur.

Several characters use a slur to refer to people of Japanese decent. One character, briefly, admonishes them to stop, but no one does. There are no Japanese characters in the book, no discussion of racism
Westminster Library
Author and narrator Jack Gantos does a marvelous job in the audiobook of Dead End in Norvelt. Very cleverly written, with humor at every corner, it was a fast paced read with many laugh out loud moments! Gantos intertwines true history from his own life as well as historical facts from US and world history that act as wonderful teaching platforms. I enjoyed every minute of it!

Find Dead End in Norvelt at the Westminster Public Library today!

And if you are in search of new books to read, try our s
Steve Scordino
Pretty funny. The use of the racial terms of the time (mainly Jap) when it was set was a bit jarring, however it captured the time without sugar coating with how the author would have liked the character to talk.
May 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Emily Crowe
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 08, 2014 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Edward Sullivan
Jul 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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. ...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

Other books in the series

Norvelt (2 books)
  • From Norvelt to Nowhere

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