What You Need to Know:|
• This mystery will have readers thinking about it long after they put it down.
• Winner of the 1979 Newbery Medal, The Westing Game is often used in classroom lesson plans.
• Several small bombs explode, resulting in some minor injuries.
• Murder is a hot topic. Gambling, bookies, stealing, alcoholism, religion and race are also mentioned.
• Some of the characters believe that they have witnessed a murder.
• A 1997 film Get a Clue is based on the book.
The Westing Game is more than a simple game of "Clue"; it is about understanding people and looking beyond what they appear to be on the outside. It’s about justice, obligations, friendships and first impressions. As a sign of the times in which it was written, there are no references to technology but there are allusions to ethnicity and race. Also, in keeping with the time period, the author seems to have high expectations of her reader and does not reduce the writing to a “child-like” format. Like a beautifully choreographed dance, the timing, tempo and rhythm of The Westing Game are flawless. Each scene flows perfectly into the next, creating a dramatic performance that builds to an exciting conclusion. This mystery was clearly designed with careful attention to detail, as every word, characteristic, description, and fact, is filled with meaning. This book isn’t the type you can skim - you just might miss an important clue!
The story revolves around the heirs of a wealthy businessman named Sam Westing. He was apparently murdered and uses his last will and testament to bring sixteen people together, to compete for his inheritance. They are told that the murderer is one of them and then they are paired up and given several clues in order to determine who committed the crime. As the characters attempt to learn more about each other and the clues they were given, surprising relationships develop and readers learn more about who these people really are. Most of them are not exactly what they seem to be. Alibis, motives and connections, sometimes logical, often misleading and occasionally nonsensical, are slowly revealed, leading readers to go two steps forward and one step back in their attempts to solve the mystery. There are fun plays on words like "twin" and "to win" and there is definitely an element of subtle, quirky humor throughout the story, like when one character isn’t sure if she’s seized by jealousy or if it is just the fried dumpling she’s eating. The relationships are complicated and there is a lot to remember, so stay on your toes and enjoy the challenge this story presents - it is worth it!
1978, 192 pages
Award Winners, Compassion/Empathy, Ethics, Family Life, Friendship, Humor, Illness/Death, Mystery
• Did you solve the mystery on your own?
• Was Chris right when he said that they had been paired off with the right people? Why or why not?
• Was Sam Westing a good man or a bad man? Depending on your answer, what made him either good or bad?
• Why did the characters bond with each other even though they were put into a position where they were forced to be
suspicious of one another?
• Does justice prevail in the end? If so, how?
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