Genre: middle grade fiction
Length: 216 pages
Setting: Westingtown, a fictional town on Lake Michigan, 1970s
Interest: It was recommended as a good read aloud.
Summary: The occupants of the Sunset Towers apartments have all been specifically chosen, although they don’t realize it. Soon after they move in, the town’s patriarch, Sam Westing, dies and names 16 of the occupants of Sunset Towers his potential heirs. All they have to do is solve his riddle. The heirs are broken into pairs and given a series of clues. The first team to correctly answer the riddle wins. Every team takes a different approach to the puzzle and most find their partner to be a surprising match. In the end, Turtle is the only one who solves the riddle, but she keeps it secret, even after Mr. Westing’s final persona dies.
Final thoughts: I’ve seen several people rave about this book (and it won the Newbery Medal), but I only found it OK. The kids enjoyed it, although it’s very rare that they don’t so I can’t use that as much of a judgement as to the quality of the story. While I wasn’t too impressed with the book, it’s hard to pinpoint where my disappointment comes from. Perhaps because I was looking for more of a game than just a riddle and a man who could seem to predict exactly what people’s responses would be (the initial reading of Westing’s will was great). I appreciated the wide variety of characters, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, and ability. I also liked the “this is where everyone ended up” bit at the end of the book, but I’m not sure I approved of Turtle keeping her secret
Title comes from: Samuel Westing set up a contest for 16 people to try to win and become his heir.
Awards won: Newbery Award in 1979
Reading challenges fulfilled: 80/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge, 14/12 in my Award Winning Challenge
If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!