Dead End in Norvelt

What a hilarious novel! and yet it touches on so many seriously profound issues. I focused, though, on “community” in my reading because it is of particular interest to me. The writer, Gantos, does a superb job of juxtaposing two warring philosophies represented by Jack’s parents: His mother is the “it takes a village” type; his father is the quintessential capitalist, individualist, “pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstrap  or tough luck” advocate.  And Jack’s experience with Miss Volker reminds me of that book by James Loewen, “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.”  But this book also reminds me of some that we read in this course.  I am truly relieved and pleased to see so many adolescent books dealing with serious social and political issues, touching on a range of problems in society that our children need to be aware of. And Gantos applies a humorous touch that adds to my/one’s enjoyment of this book. His putting this New Deal town and its values at the center and not just a backdrop, as mere setting, is truly effective. As we gallop along the technological, environmental unfriendly road to dubious development, this book is a cautionary tale. What do we lose in the interest of progress? Is it really worth it? Call me old-fashioned, but the good old days is not just a cliche.

MS

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