Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is the story of an incredible two months for a boy named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation adventure are suddenly ruined when he is grounded by his feuding parents for what seems like forever. But escape comes where Jack least expects it, once his mom loans him out to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore - a chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, obituaries, Hells Angels, and countless bloody noses.
Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.
Young readers will find Jack authentic and funny - especially his embarrassing nose. What will they make of the Utopian community's history or the frequent references to Eleanor Roosevelt? I don't know. But Gantos's obit to Norvelt is too real and too interesting for that to matter much. (Reviewed by Jo Perry).
"Our dear little Norvelt was founded by Eleanor Roosevelt, who knew common people like us wanted equality..."
The town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, one of 99 subsistence homestead communities created during the Depression for unemployed workers, is a character in Jack Gantos's Dead End in Norvelt. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the idea behind this residential area "was for each homesteader to become independent of government help, and for each cooperative community to eventually become self-supporting... Each family got a 1.6- to 7-acre plot, a house, a garage, a chicken coop, fruit trees and a grape arbor, as well as a stove, refrigerator and farming tools." Today, a historical marker still in the area describes its history:
Originally called "Westmoreland Homesteads," the town was established April 13, 1934, by the federal government as part of a New Deal homestead project. With approximately 250 homes, it provided housing, work, and a community environment to unemployed workers and their families during the...
Research shows that 90% of Americans value public libraries(Dec 11 2013) According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, about 90% of Americans aged 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an...