Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday Favorites: The Westing Game

 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Rating: PG

Recommended for: Ages 8 to Adult

Sixteen people were invited to the reading of the very strange will of the very rich Samuel W. Westing. They could become millionaires, depending upon how they played the game.

The not-quite-perfect heirs were paired, and each pair was given $10,000 and a set of clues (no two set of clues were alike). All they had to do was find the answer, but the answer to what?

The Westing game was tricky and dangerous, but the heirs played on, through blizzards and burglaries and bombs bursting in air. And one of them won!

With her own special blend of intricacy, humor, and upside-down perceptions, Ellen Raskin has entangled a remarkable cast of characters in a puzzle-knotted, word-twisting plot. She then deftly unravels it again in a surprising (but fair) and highly satisfying ending.

I first read The Westing Game for school when I was probably about seven or eight and I've read it many times since. Despite that, I'm still not sure my brain has every little detail sorted properly. Most of it, but it's so complex. Turtle Wexler, the ignored younger sister, is the main protagonist, but it's really the sort of book that jumps to wherever the action is, and tells whatever part of the story is most relevant at the time. You don't find such complexity very often in a children's book, but The Westing Game has it, and it won a Newbery.

There's not much I can say without giving spoilers, it's that sort of book. It's a mystery. Sam Westing has died and left a very strange will, with clues such as "for," "plain," "grain," and "shed." The clues are to lead to his supposed murderer. But it's not what you have, it's what you don't have that counts. People turn against each other as they play the game. And things just keep getting more and more complicated. Like when Sandy McSouthers is limping, but Turtle, who kicks anyone who touches her hair in the shin, would never kick Sandy. And there's the bomb in one of the gifts at Angela Wexler's bridal shower. Are they connected? Do they have anything to do with the game? Are they even playing the right game?

The cast of characters is very diverse and well drawn. From Madame Hoo to Chris Theodorakis, not one is the same. "Some are not who they say they are, and some are not who they seem to be. Whoever you are, it's time to go home. God bless you all and remember this: Buy Westing Paper Products!"

The Westing Game is a fabulous book. If you're looking for a mystery, a good Newbery, or just a great read, The Westing Game fits the bill. Read it. You won't be disappointed.

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