Audiobook Review: Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos is a semi-autobiographical young adult book set in the 1960s in a Roosevelt town known as Norvelt, I mention setting because it is an integral piece of the book and the very first thing I think of in describing it.
Jack is grounded for the summer because he mows down his mother’s corn stalks by his father’s orders because his father wants to build a runway for his airplane. Also, Jack unknowingly shoots a loaded gun at a war movie at the drive-in across from his house. So he’s in deep.
However, Jack’s summer doesn’t completely suck. Instead he ends up helping a sassy senior citizen named Ms. Volker write obituaries of original Norvelters. Basically Ms. Volker can’t write because of severe arthritis, so Jack has to be her hands. Anyways, Ms. Volker puts her own spin on every obit, turning them into a history lesson on revolution or the value of community.
I really enjoyed Dead End In Norvelt. It’s quite witty and of course, gave me nostalgia for a time when things were simpler, never mind that my mom wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye when this book takes place (1962, she was born 1963). There is zero romance in this book. And lots of senior citizens. Also, at one point Jack dresses up like the grim reaper and makes a bargain with a senior citizen. Hilarious. Further, the adults are highly present in this book. Jack’s parents aren’t just props, they actually add value to the story and understanding into the character/persona of Jack.
I loved that there were values of bravery. Bravery doesn’t always mean being the biggest or the strongest. Sometimes it means standing up for the right thing. Sometimes it means taking care of other people. Sometimes it means giving back to your community.
Also there are Hell’s Angels.
I listened to the audiobook version which is just over 7 hours long. Jack Gantos, the author, narrates his own audiobook. I think he did a fine job narrating, although I did find myself quite distracted by his accent. I thought he pronounced things oddly, but that’s just my upstate NY ears. I thought he did an excellent job of bringing the senior citizens to life, cuz really, the elderly are the BEST! Macmillan Audio is the publisher of the Dead End In Norvelt audiobook.
Disclosure: Audiobook obtained at BEA.