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Extended Audio Sample Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (7,582 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jack Gantos Narrator: Jack Gantos Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Norvelt Series Release Date:
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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 "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. 

But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his Utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. 

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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This is a brilliant book, full of history, mystery, and laughs. It reminded me of my small-town childhood, although my small town was never as delightfully weird as Norvelt.”

    Dave Barry, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Gantos captures the voice of a middle-school boy in a relatable way, with plenty of self-consciousness and humor, and he infuses the storyline with a sense of mystery, danger, and adventure…This is an engaging story that makes for compelling listening. Parents Choice Gold Award

  • The audiobook was just for fun, since Jack narrated it himself and I'd listen to him read a grocery list, his delivery is that funny. Horn Book Magazine
  • Gantos narrates this laugh-out-loud semi-autobiographical tale, providing a pitch-perfect rendition of Jack's sarcasm, exaggeration, and whining. School Library Journal
  • Listening to [Jack Gantos] – both his voice and the crazy tales he tells – reminds me a bit of David Sedaris. Fans of his work will likely enjoy this as well. The attitude is the same, too. He doesn't judge, he just tells it as he sees it. The dialogue and the first person reflections make audio an ideal way to experience it. 5 Minutes for Books
  • Looking for a great audiobook for boys? This is it. Further blurring the line between fact and fiction in this autobiographical novel, author Jack Gantos narrates himself, sharing the 1962 summer adventures of his eponymous hero as he navigates adolescence and a dying town caught between two eras…The story is a little odd and a lot funny. Gantos's delivery is dry and wry, and even when characters don't get distinctive voices, the action and emotion are utterly clear. A gem. AudioFile Magazine
  • It is hard to imagine anyone other than Jack Gantos reading Dead End in Norvelt. Like most of his books, this is slightly autobiographical (Gantos was born in Norvelt but did not grow up there). Listeners really hear the intended inflections and accents as well as the energy and emotion found in the story. Library Media Connection
  • Dead End in Norvelt, this year's Newberry winner for best young adult fiction, is even more hilarious in audio form as read by author Jack Gantos. My family howled out loud as we listened to it during a spring break drive to California. The Bellingham Herald
  • This is a brilliant book, full of history, mystery, and laughs. It reminded me of my small-town childhood, although my small town was never as delightfully weird as Norvelt. Dave Barry
  • A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character . . . Jackie Gantos. Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • A fast-paced and witty read. School Library Journal
  • A more quietly (but still absurdly) funny and insightful account of a kid's growth, kin to Gantos's Jack stories, that will stealthily hook even resistant readers into the lure of history. BCCB
  • This winning novel, both humorous and heartwarming, takes place during the summer of 1962, when narrator Jack Gantos turns 12 and spends most of his days grounded. Jack's main ‘get out of jail free card,' and one of the novel's most charming characters, is Miss Volker. The blossoming of their friendship coincides with the blooming of Jack's character. Shelf Awareness Pro
  • There's more than laugh-out-loud gothic comedy here. This is a richly layered semi-autobiographical tale, an ode to a time and place, to history and the power of reading. The Horn Book, starred review
  • Gantos, as always, delivers bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws. Booklist
  • An exhilarating summer marked by death, gore and fire sparks deep thoughts in a small-town lad not uncoincidentally named ‘Jack Gantos.' The gore is all Jack's, which to his continuing embarrassment ‘would spray out of my nose holes like dragon flames' whenever anything exciting or upsetting happens. And that would be on every other page, seemingly . . . Characteristically provocative gothic comedy, with sublime undertones. Kirkus Reviews, starred review
  • Nobody can tell a story like Jack Gantos can. And this is a story like no other. It's funny. It's thoughtful. It's history. It's weird. But you don't need me to attempt to describe it. Get in there and start reading Gantos. Jon Scieszka, founder of guysread.com and author of the Spaceheadz series
  • The Newbury Medal-winning book has all the ingredients for a great audiobook – a strong narrative voice, a blend of humor and pathos, and a performer who has unique authority: it all happened to him, with some subtle fictionalizations. Book Links

  • “Wonderfully wacky…The darkly comic mystery and oddball characters make for some good laughs, but the riffs on history raise the consciousness as well.”

    Washington Post

  • “A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos’s work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character…Jackie Gantos…Memorable in every way.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “There’s more than laugh-out-loud gothic comedy here. This is a richly layered semi-autobiographical tale, an ode to a time and place, to history and the power of reading.”

    Horn Book (starred review)

  • “Characteristically provocative gothic comedy, with sublime undertones.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Gantos, as always, delivers bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws.”

    Booklist

  • Among longlisted titles for ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2012
  • Among longlisted titles for NCTE Notable Child. Bks in Lang. A, 2012
  • Among longlisted titles for Junior Library Guild Selection, 2012
  • Winner of Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction Winner, 2012
  • Among longlisted titles for ALA Notable Children's Books, 2012
  • American Library Association Notable Children's Books, 2012
  • Among longlisted titles for Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year, 2012
  • American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults, 2012
  • Winner of Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens, 2012
  • Among longlisted titles for Oklahoma Book Award Master List, 2014
  • Winner of Newbery Medal Book, 2012
  • Among longlisted titles for Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year, 2012
  • Among longlisted titles for Maine Student Book Award Master List, 2012
  • Among longlisted titles for Horn Book Magazine Fanfare List, 2012
  • Among longlisted titles for TN Intermed Volunt State Book Award ML, 2014
  • Winner of Kansas William Allen White Award, 2013
  • Among longlisted titles for Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice A. ML, 2014
  • A 2011 Publishers Weekly Best Book: Children's Fiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal
  • Winner of the 2012 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction
  • Nominated for Kiddo Award Nominee, 2012
  • Among longlisted titles for Washington Post Best Books of the Year, 2012

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Shereen | 2/17/2014

    " OK. Didn't deserve a Newbery though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Karen Holt | 2/4/2014

    " Listen to this in audio. Read by the author. Characters vivid. Jack sounds older than his years at times, but this town definitely comes to life. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Kira | 2/3/2014

    " This book was hard to get into. Probably half way through the book did it actually pick up, and then it still wasn't a page turner for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Steve | 2/2/2014

    " I liked the story. I enjoyed the history of the town even more. The incessant nosebleeds got a bit old. I thought the book was a good read. I enjoyed the interview on NPR's Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me even more. He describes how he ended up doing 18 months in a federal prison for smuggling hash and distributing it in New York. Now there's a career trajectory for you! "

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