Book Review: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
I first read The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin when I was in fifth grade, and it was assigned to my reading group. I was never a fan of assigned reading, so I was pretty much determined to dislike it. It was supposed to last us a couple of weeks. We were told to read the first couple of chapters and then discuss it later that week in the group. I ended up reading the whole book that first night. I just couldn’t put it down.
It’s been about eight years since then, and I’m still in love with this book. In fact, it’s probably my favorite book of all-time. I love all the twists and turns. Every time I reread it, I catch a new clue that I’d missed previously.
The Westing Game is a mystery novel marketed for children, but Ellen Raskin’s writing is really accessible for any age. The plot centers around the mystery which shrouds the death of eccentric millionaire Sam Westing. Upon his death, a group of heirs are called together for the reading of his outlandish will. In it, he sets the rules for a game. Suddenly, eight unlikely pairs are racing to figure out who killed Sam Westing so they can inherit his fortune.
The point of view switches around frequently, and I remember having a hard time with this as a child. Reading through it now, it all make sense, though I still have to take a second sometimes to double check which character is the focus of some parts.
This book has mystery, humor, and subplots galore. There really is something for everybody. Though it was first published in 1978, it is still popular today, and you can easily find it in most bookstores. It is also highly decorated. It won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award in 1978 and a Newberry Medal in 1979. It has also been named an ALA Notable Book and is on the School Library Journal’s list of One Hundred Books That Shaped the Century.
At only 182 pages, it’s a short read, but very enjoyable. I’ve lost track of exactly how many times I’ve read it, but the number is definitely over 30. It’s my most frequently recommended book, and it deserves to hold a spot on everyone’s reading list.