Monday, August 14, 2017
Reviews From the Children's Section - The Westing Game
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin -
Description: 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!
My Thoughts: Reading an old favorite is always a little bit of a risk. Will a book I loved as a child still be a decent read for an adult? How much will nostalgia affect my reading experience? Will reading it now ruin it for me?
The Westing Game exceeded my expectations and was really just a joy to read. There's quite a large cast here and while the book does seem to center around adolescent Turtle Wexler we get a peeks of all the other characters too. It's fun seeing the different ways each team investigates the clues they are given as well as the development of the different relationships. The characters while not super developed are surprisingly complex with hidden secrets and weaknesses. As part of the game each character is partnered with another making some unlikely allies and it was entertaining to watch. The mystery isn't scary but is definitely puzzling and really a solid mystery. Raskin isn't dumbing anything down because this is a Middle Grade book! Even knowing the ending I really enjoyed watching the investigation and seeing the conclusion be revealed. There are two epilogues which show what has happened to the characters 5 years from the end of the mystery and then again even more into the future which I really enjoyed but might make some readers who don't like super tied up endings a little eye rolly.
While this book was published in 1979 very little feels dated except for the occasional decor description. There are some mentions of race and gender role issues but Raskins handles it all beautifully and with an unexpected flair. There was one mention of a character's daughter that was born with some sort of disability (possibly Down Syndrome) that made me cringe a bit but this was literally one mention.
The plot is fairly complex and there are a lot of subtleties that I think might bore younger readers but I think any reader - especially one who loves mysteries - who is 10 or older would love this. If you're an adult who has never read this or if this was a favorite childhood read it's definitely worth a visit. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Rating: Loved it!