The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

I read this book in middle or high school years ago. I remembered it a couple months ago and decided to buy it. I remembered enjoying it greatly back then and hoped I would still enjoy it. I was not disappointed. I enjoyed it as much this second time as I did when I was younger.

The book has an interesting premise. Several people are invited to live in the same apartment building. Unbeknownst to them, they are all heirs, or immediately related to an heir, of one Samuel Westing. After a couple months, the death of Sam Westing is announced and the heirs are invited to the Westing mansion to have the will read. The will proposes a game, the Westing game, to determine who will inherit the money. The heirs are broken up into pairs and each set given a set of clues and $10,000 that they must agree how to spend. Then the game begins. While the pairs try to determine the significance of their clues, interesting things begin to happen. Bombs going off, friendships created or lost, old secrets coming to life, rampant theft, and the secrecy of clue keeping the apartment building interesting and the heirs stirred up. I liked that at the end of the book, they tell you want happened to everyone after the game was over and where they were five years later. It’s always nice when there is an epilogue and you are not left wondering what happens to them later.

The characters are well developed and completely relateable. They are as unlikely a crew as could be imagined – a bride from China who can barely speak English, a judge, two doctors, a cleaning lady, a retired court stenographer, a high school athlete, a retired dressmaker, and a disabled child just to name a few. Each person has a distinct personality and traits that you learn more and more about through the book. One of my favorite characters was the judge. However, as you learn more and more about each person’s history, they all become more interesting.

Even though I remember who inherited, I was still surprised that I couldn’t figure out how until the reader discovered it in the book. It is a clever story line and engrossing in its puzzle like nature. It is written for young adults, but older adults will enjoy it as well. There is no vulgarity, no sex, no drugs, nothing unmoral, just a good storyline. I think it is especially good for younger adults as a way to find entertainment that is completely wholesome and interesting. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good mystery. The only downfall to it is that I will have to wait a while to re-read it so I forget how to solve the puzzle! It is quite short as well, under 250 pages, and would be great for a summer read. Check it out!

My rating:

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