Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos Audiobook Review

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.

Book Cover of Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Dead End In Norvelt

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.

Purchase Dead End In Norvelt Here.*FYI I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you buy things from Amazon after clicking link. Proceeds used for upkeep of site

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I’ve read other books by Gantos, but hadn’t heard of this one. I was born in 1962, so maybe I’ll give it a shot.
    Annette recently posted..IMM – Vacation EditionMy Profile

  2. I’ve never heard of this book or the author, but this sounds really good! Especially since I love reading things placed in the 60’s 🙂
    Amber recently posted..Rock This! Thursday with Julie HalpernMy Profile

  3. I’ve read quite a few Gantos books (an account of the summer he got arrested for drug running on the Printz list and a series about a boy w/ ADD that has a book on the Newbery list) and I have really not enjoyed them at all… I don’t much care for his writing style and I really hated the last two books in his Joey Pigza series… Sounds like this one is better, but still don’t know that I would give it a shot.
    Great review though! A book that has Hells Angels can’t be all bad, right? 🙂
    Ashley recently posted..IMM June 27- July 3My Profile

  4. I hadn’t heard of this book but based on your review I’d say it definitely sounds like a winner! I like the positive portrayal of the elderly and I loved what you said about bravery. The characters sound fantastic too. This is going on my TBR list. Thanks for sharing your review of it!
    Christina T recently posted..Review: Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle HellMy Profile


  1. […] reviews: Good Books and Good Wine: “I really enjoyed Dead End In Norvelt. It’s quite witty and of course, gave me nostalgia […]

  2. […] Read other reviews: Fuse #8 Good Books & Good Wine Waking Brain Cells […]

  3. […] other reviews: Book Smugglers Fuse #8 Good Books, Good Wine Kirkus (starred) Publisher’s Weekly (starred) Shelf-Employed Waking Brain […]

Leave a Comment


CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: