Dead End in Norvelt

Dead End in Norvelt is a captivating and award-winning novel written by Jack Gantos. This book has received critical acclaim, various awards, and high praise from readers all around the world. It is a must-read for those who are interested in literature and enjoy reading in any format, including books, audiobooks, e-books, and podcasts.

The Story

Set in the small town of Norvelt during the summer of 1962, the story revolves around a twelve-year-old boy named Jack Gantos, who is grounded for the entire summer due to his continuously getting into trouble. Feeling frustrated and bored, Jack finds his salvation in helping an elderly neighbor, Miss Volker, write obituaries for the town’s original residents.

As Jack becomes more involved in Miss Volker’s eccentric project, he stumbles upon some startling and mysterious historical facts about the town’s founding and the residents who have passed away. These discoveries lead him to unravel a dark secret that threatens to change everything he thought he knew about Norvelt.

Awards, Reviews, and Accolades

Dead End in Norvelt has received numerous accolades, including:

  • Newbery Medal: In 2012, this book won the prestigious Newbery Medal, which is awarded annually to the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature.
  • Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction: The novel was also honored with the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, recognizing its exceptional portrayal of historical events.

The book has garnered rave reviews for its engaging storyline, memorable characters, and emotional depth. Critics have praised Jack Gantos for his ability to blend history with fiction seamlessly. Many readers have expressed their appreciation for the book’s humorous tone and its ability to tackle serious topics with wit and sensitivity.

Key Characters

Dead End in Norvelt introduces readers to a range of memorable characters, including:

  1. Jack Gantos: The protagonist and narrator of the story. Jack is a curious and mischievous twelve-year-old boy who finds himself grounded for the summer but eventually becomes entangled in a series of unexpected adventures.
  2. Miss Volker: An eccentric and knowledgeable elderly neighbor who enlists Jack’s help in writing obituaries for Norvelt’s deceased residents. Miss Volker reveals historical secrets about the town, which sets the story in motion.
  3. Jack’s Parents: They play a role in grounding Jack for the summer and are portrayed as caring and concerned individuals who want the best for their son.
  4. Fellow Norvelt Residents: Various quirky and colorful characters reside in Norvelt, adding depth and charm to the narrative.

These characters, along with others, bring the story to life and contribute to its rich and engaging narrative.


In conclusion, Dead End in Norvelt is a captivating novel that has garnered critical acclaim and numerous awards for its engaging story, memorable characters, and seamless blending of history and fiction. Jack Gantos’s ability to tackle serious topics with wit and sensitivity while maintaining a humorous tone sets this book apart.

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