It feels like ages since I last participated in Tracey Neithercott's YA Book Club, but it's great to be back on board now. July's pick was a little different than in past months. This time Tracey asked us to cast our votes on traditional summer reading list books, and The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin came out the winner. Now I should probably mention that never in all my years of schooling have I ever had a summer reading list, nor have I ever encountered this particular book. So this was a first read-through for me, and I have to say it was...different. And I can't decide if it's good different or not-sure-what-I-think different. Mostly I found it kind of odd.
The cast of characters was on the quirky side, and at first it was a bit difficult to keep everyone straight. My favourite character had to be Turtle, which will probably come as no surprise to anyone who has read this book. I got a "kick" out of the way she felt the need to boot anyone and everyone in the shins. And then there's the fact that the kid was a whiz with the stock market at thirteen years of age. The way she takes over the trial-like proceedings toward the end was pretty impressive. In many ways, it felt like the story evolved into Turtle Wexler's story.
While this book felt disjointed and confusing at times, I did enjoy reading all of the ways the characters tried to solve the clues they were given. The solution to the mystery was pretty clever and I couldn't help but be impressed at the fact that all of the clues were there the whole time for the heirs as well as the reader to figure out if they were so inclined. (Honestly, I didn't have enough brain capacity to try and crack the code, but it was kind of cool.) Without creeping into spoiler territory, I especially liked how Turtle figured out the situation with Samuel W. Westing et all at the story's conclusion. The last handful of chapters were by far my favourites.
All in all, it was a quick and easy read, which is probably why it's assigned to the younger set. As this was my first encounter with The Westing Game, I had no fond childhood memories attached to it, which is probably why I'm not head over heels in love with it. That said, my favourite part of this reading experience had to be the smell of old library book that kept wafting off the pages. Without a word of a lie, I kept wedging my nose in the middle of the book just to inhale the scent of it. (And I had the audacity to call this book odd. Now who's the weirdo?) That 1978 vintage is pretty much perfect. (It's just an awesome year all around.**)
So, have you read this book in recent years or even as a kid? If so, what did you think of it? For links to other YA Book Club participants' reviews of Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game, visit Tracey Neithercott's blog.
** I was born in August 1978.