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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 Ganto 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

  • “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)

  • “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.”


  • “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)

  • “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 of I’ll Mature When I’m Dead and Big Trouble

  • 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

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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