My ‘Feel Good‘ Book: The Westing Game
Everyone has that childhood book. You know the one. You stayed up late to read it- not once, but multiple times. It is the novel that you can quote inside and out. The plotline is forever ingrained in your memory. And no matter how many times you read it, the ending is always a pleasant surprise.
For me, that book is The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Winner of the 1979 Newbery Medal, The Westing Game is the perfect child-oriented mystery. The reader finds themselves on the shores of Lake Michigan, in a mysterious apartment building named Sunset Towers. Across the street from Sunset Towers lies the Westing mansion. Samuel Westing, the owner of the mansion, is the owner of Westing Paper Products and is as rich as it gets. One day, however, he is found dead- and the sixteen tenants of Sunset Towers find themselves as the heirs to his massive fortune. However, there is a twist. Sam Westing’s will is not normal. Instead, it is a puzzle and whoever solves it receives the entirety of Westing’s $200 million fortune. Each heir is given a partner, $10,000, and a set of clues to work with. And then the deciphering begins.
The Westing Game is the perfect mystery story for a kid. But, I would venture to say that its appeal extends beyond childhood. It is a quick and lighthearted, but intense and suspenseful. To be honest, if I read the book for the first time today I still would not be able to solve the mystery. But when each part of the puzzle falls into place, everything makes sense. Finding the solution is one of those ‘hit yourself on the head’ moments, as you laugh and say “I should have noticed that”! When Raskin divulges the secrets of Westing and his will, you feel like you are privy to secret information. It is one of those novels that you replay the ending for weeks on end, just so you can comprehend the magnificence of it. It is one of those books you’ll read whenever you are bored, and yet you’ll never grow bored of it. Which leads me to here- right now, where here I find myself. I first read The Westing Game in 4th Grade. Yet as a Sophomore, I am writing a review about it. If that doesn’t explain how great the book is, I don’t know what else can.
~Frances Cayton ‘14