Dead End in Norvelt

Dead End in Norvelt

Book - 2011
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In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack Gantos spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses.
Publisher: New York :, Farrar Straus Giroux,, [2011]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2011
ISBN: 9780374379933
Branch Call Number: J FIC GANT
Characteristics: 341 pages ; 21 cm


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IndyPL_SteveB Dec 06, 2018

This novel is set in 1962 and based on Gantos’s own early days in his hometown of Norvelt, PA, a government-created town in the days of the Great Depression. The main character is also named “Jack Gantos.” For the first 100 pages or so, this is a funny book about a kid obsessed with history, baseball, and his own frequent nosebleeds and with his relationships with his odd father and his elderly neighbor, Miss Voelker. Miss Voelker is a great character -- retired nurse, historian, obituary writer, and one of the last of the original residents of Norvelt.

Then it all falls apart. A Hell's Angels gang and an artificial and awkward murder subplot hijack the last few chapters. They don't fit. They are not funny enough for entertainment; but the author also doesn’t take them seriously enough to lend weight to them. One half of a great book only results in a mediocre whole.

YLPLchildrens Jul 25, 2018

This quirky novel follows Jack who is grounded for the summer of 1962. Filled with crazy adventures involving biker gangs, bloody noses, mysterious deaths, and many interesting obituaries, this book is sure to capture the adventurous spirit of any young reader who happens to be stuck inside for the summer.

He had me at the opening scene, where Jack accidentally shoots the drive-in movie screen from miles away with a WWII Japanese rifle. Eccentric & quirky characters are usually *too* eccentric & quirky for me, but the ones in this book are just on the edge of being completely believable and they are certainly laugh-out-loud funny. You will laugh at Jack while feeling for him at the same time.

litriocht Jun 17, 2014

For a book about a failing town, dying people, and other morbid topics, Dead End in Norvelt is surprisingly hilarious. Miss Volker's introductory scene, involving Jack thinking that she is melting the skin off her hands, is one of the funniest passages I have read all year.

Dec 31, 2013

This would be a great book for a Tween Book Club.

JCLKinsleyR Oct 07, 2013

This book is filled with history, humor, and heartache. I felt for Jack through the entire story and desperately wanted to meet Miss Volker, his companion for the summer. The WWII and post WWII story-line sucked me in from the get go. Excited to read From Norvelt to Nowhere!

LibraryCard_123 Jul 12, 2013

Liked the book, it was funny, I laughed out loud!

Aug 01, 2012

This book is awesome! It is a historic story with added humor. It was very funny and l I would recommend it to anyone.


It’s not an easy book, but it does make for a compelling story, in spite of the protagonist’s limited movements. I walked into this title looking for an explanation of what makes Jack Gantos tick. I never found my answer. Instead, I found a book I can read and enjoy and recommend ad nauseum. And as trades go, that one sounds like a good deal to me.

Jul 15, 2012

This was a really funny book. Jack Gantos (the story is a combination of real experiences and fiction) gets grounded for "life" (the summer) for several things. (including pulling the trigger on a rifle he didn't know was armed, and wasn't supposed to touch)
he gets involved in the local newspaper scribing obituaries, and his summer gets interesting from there. this is probably because its semi-nonfiction, but he dosent follow up some plotlines. (but life is like that, not all plotlines get followed)
Funny book.

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Jul 21, 2016

orange_falcon_66 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

Jul 19, 2015

white_whale_95 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 18


ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

indigo_dolphin_204 Jun 23, 2012

indigo_dolphin_204 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 19


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“. . . if you think about it a refrigerator is just a coffin for food that stands upright.”


“Something had to be wrong with me, but one really good advantage about being dirt-poor is that you can’t afford to go to the doctor and get bad news.”


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1962, Norvelt, PA. It’s a town that owes its existence to Eleanor Roosevelt (for whom it is named) and the residence of one young Jack Gantos. A kid with a perpetually bleeding proboscis, Jack’s looking forward to having an awesome summer. That is, before his mother forces him to help out old Miss Volker write the town’s obituaries. Before he’s grounded for mowing down his mom’s corn (because his dad told him to, and how fair is that?). Before it seems as though the whole summer might pass him by. Fortunately, Jack finds his time with Miss Volker to be fascinating, and that’s before all the little old ladies in town start dying off at an remarkably quickfire rate. Is there something natural or unnatural behind these deaths? And more importantly, will Jack ever get to play an honest game of baseball under the shining sun ever again?


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