The Westing Game

“This was the lowest court she had ever presided at: a thirteen-year-old lawyer, a court stenographer who records in Polish, and the judge in African robes. Oh well, she had played Sam Westing’s game, now she would play Turtle’s game.” (The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin)

This book is impressively intricate – one of the first things I was compelled to do upon finishing was to start all over again! It is amazing how Ellen Raskin could weave so many different stories together, all while using deception and subterfuge to make the plot even more complicated right up to (and beyond) the last few pages.

I am surprised by how few people have heard of this book, and how few die-hard fans it has. I think that one of the reasons must be that it is at least as complicated, if not more so, than an adult mystery novel. Some adults turn to children’s novels in order to have a rest from reading their normal over-intellectualized stories, but they don’t find it here. Also, children aren’t used to being treated like adults in terms of plot subtlety and complexity. Once you’ve given it a chance, however, you’ll wish that more children’s book authors had the same respect for the intellect of a ten year old as Ellen Raskin. I think it would be safe to claim that this is one of the best children’s books I’ve ever read – it is as detailed and complicated as an adult novel but with a tight, marvelously satisfying conclusion.

Beverage: It’s time to pull out your highest quality tea or coffee – the one you save for holidays and celebrations. Only the nicest of beverages will have the same subtlety as this book does.

Reminds me of… When You Reach me because both books are almost more like reading puzzles than plain old stories. I actually think that When You Reach Me resembles The Westing Game more than it does its alleged predecessor, A Wrinkle in Time.

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2 thoughts on “The Westing Game

  1. I’ve read it twice, once with each mother-daughter book club. We had some very spirited discussions, especially concerning the relationships of Turtle and her sister to their mother. This is much more than just a mystery novel!

    • That’s an excellent point – when I was talking about its complications, I definitely meant to refer to more than just the mystery puzzle. It focuses more on complex characterization than almost anything else.

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