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The Westing Game by Ellen RaskinTitle: The Westing Game

Ellen Raskin

First Published: 1978

No. of Pages: 192 pages

Synopsis (from B&N):
This brilliantly crafted, award-winning novel is an intriguing mystery that follows an eclectic group of characters as they struggle to be the first to solve the puzzle set forth Sam Westing’s will-and, most importantly, lay claim to the Westing fortune.

Comments and Critique:
I love this book. It is one of the few books I read in elementary school that really stuck with me through the years. I even bought a copy for Connor two years ago in hopes that he would love it as much as I did. (He thought it was okay.) When dusting yesterday, I picked it up again and, well, you know how it goes. After two pages, I was sucked back into the mystery and had to finish it. (I did finish cleaning the house first.)

The mystery remains hands-down one of the best mysteries I have ever read. Even though I remembered the ending, I still had difficulties finding the clues to the solution. I even started second-guessing my memory as I was thrown off the track by various subplots I had forgotten. The version I read had an introduction from a friend of the author who mentioned that Raskin, when writing it, did not know how the story was going to unfold. As she mentioned to her friend, if she knew how it was going to end, then she would have been bored writing it. While this could have been disastrous to the plot, instead Raskin gave us a story line that never grows stale, in which the drama continues to build all the while keeping the audience guessing as to how it was all going to end. Raskin definitely did not grow bored while writing The Westing Game, and a reader does not grow bored reading it either!

Her friend also mentioned that Raskin was not good around kids; she could not relate to them. As The Westing Game is a children’s novel, her trick was not talking down to children but talking up to them – appealing to the adult in each child, if you will. This ability of hers to speak to children on a more adult level makes this particular novel appealing to young and old, in spite of what my son said.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading The Westing Game, I highly recommend picking up a copy. It is a very quick read, easily finished in the course of an afternoon or two. If you have had the pleasure, I would recommend picking it up again and rediscovering what a gem this children’s book is and finding out how much you can enjoy it even as an adult.

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