Dead End in NorveltSpring 2012 Audio Book
This is the unabridged audio version of Jack Gantos' novel Dead End in Norvelt, which was recently awarded the 2012 Newbery Medal. Gantos depicts a community and a cast of characters who are simultaneously offbeat and completely believable. The protagonist shares the same name, hometown, and chronic nosebleeds as the author, and despite the quirkiness of the situation there is a wealth of vivid detail that feels plucked from reality. For instance, young Jack describes the sameness of his 1960s neighborhood, claiming it was as if everyone lived in little green Monopoly houses. In another scene, he tries to listen to what his mom is telling him but all he can focus on is her face, which looks "like a pink cupcake" with strawberry frosting. 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. Gantos narrates the six CD set, and there is also a bonus interview with the author on the last disc. This is an engaging story that makes for compelling listening.