Monday, January 17, 2011

The Westing Game - Ellen Raskin

Summary:  A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will.  And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger--and a possible murderer--to inherit his vast fortune, one thing's for sure: Sam Westing may be dead...but that won't stop him from playing one last game!  (Summary from back of the book and image from

My Review:  What a fast paced book!  I've had The Westing Game on my to-read pile for far too long.  I still don't know why I hadn't read it before.  Raskin is the opposite of wordy--every chapter, every description gave the reader just enough to stay engaged with new information, but just vague enough to cause a little confusion and keep the reader wanting more.  I felt like I needed the little paper slip you get when playing Clue to keep everything straight.  The whole time I was reading I kept getting the feeling I'd read this before.  Because I didn't intuit the ending, I believe this feeling came from the similarities it had to playing the game Clue as a child.  There were so many twists and turns, connections, and associations that by the end I felt a deep respect for Raskin and her story telling abilities, as well as the mystery element she wove so perfectly.  I'm not surprised in the least this was Newberry Award winner.  It's a fantastic Young Adult book, one should pick up for yourself if you haven't already.

If you look up the book online you'll find two inconsistencies: 1) Somehow, Grace Windkoppel is Sam Westing's niece despite the book clearly stating more than once that Westing was an only child of immigrant parents--I had noticed this, but figured Sam Westing had lied somewhere along the way in order to stay as anonymous as possible. 2) That the quick-diagnosing Dr. Deere did not diagnose a fairly clear case of M├╝nchausen syndrome--this I did not catch.  Besides that, the book flows smoothly.

My Rating:  4.5 Stars

Sum it up: A great introduction to mystery books for young adults.


Anne Bennion said...

I loved this book and so did my fourth graders (back in the day when I still taught school). They didn't catch the inconsistancies. And I loved that even my slower paced readers weren't bogged down with tons of extra details.

Ann Summerville said...

Thanks for the review. I'm going to put this on my list of must reads for this year.


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