Title: The Westing Game
Author: Ellen Raskin
The sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset Towers faced east. Strange!
Sunset Towers faced east and had no towers. This glittery, glassy apartment house stood alone on the Lake Michigan shore five stories high. Five empty stories high.
Then one day (it happened to be the Fourth of July), a most uncommon-looking delivery boy rode around town slipping letters under the doors of the chosen tenants-to-be. The letters were signed Barney Northrup.
The delivery boy was sixty-two years old, and there was no such person as Barney Northrup.—The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
Right off the bat, I was hooked when I originally read The Westing Game back in 8th grade. In fact, this book was one of two books which I recall from my pre-high school years that had an impact on me, the other being A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle. The Westing Game had it all – Relatable characters, both as children and adults; a murder mystery (or was it?); millions of dollars of inheritance money; people who were not what they presented themselves to be; and a satisfying ending. It was pretty heady stuff for a kid and still is a great read for an adult.
The fact that this book is still entertaining for me and others after we’ve solidly entered our adult years is something which would gratify Raskin to no end if she were still alive today. Raskin’s editor, Ann Durell , wrote in the forward to the 2008 edition of The Westing Game:
(Raskin) said that she wrote for the child in herself, but for once I think she was wrong. I think she wrote for the adult in children. She never disrespected them or “wrote down”, because she didn’t know how.
Raskin was also very considerate of her school attending readers:
I know that when they take it off the shelf, and if they have to make a report, I know they go to the back of the book to see how many pages it is. So I insist that my books be under 200 pages.“Ellen Raskin Speaks About The Westing Game.” Daughter Number Three, 7 July 2009, daughternumberthree.blogspot.com/2009/07/ellen-raskin-speaks-about-westing-game.html.
While this is a quick enough read for adults (I finished in just two days), it is very entertaining and engaging. It will take longer for kids to read, but they will find it no less entertaining and engaging as a result.