The Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin

Hardcover, 1978

Status

Available

Local notes

Fic Ras

Collection

Publication

Dutton Juvenile (1978), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 185 pages. $15.99.

Description

The mysterious death of an eccentric millionaire brings together an unlikely assortment of heirs who must uncover the circumstances of his death before they can claim their inheritance.

Language

Original publication date

1978

Physical description

185 p.; 6.4 inches

ISBN

0525423206 / 9780525423201

Barcode

427

Media reviews

The book seems to suggest that the real American inheritance is transformation, and that American transformation is a mercurial thing.
4 more
Ultimately, although the story is an exciting who-done-it, the emphasis on the ‘who’ is what keeps readers coming back. The characters make the story interesting, and they make the reader think, and that is exactly what a powerful book should do.
If Raskin's crazy ingenuity has threatened to run away with her on previous occasions, here the complicated game is always perfectly meshed with character and story. Confoundingly clever, and very funny.

User reviews

LibraryThing member booksandwine
I don't often read children's books. I don't consider YA to be children's literature. This means I am not as well-read in a certain genre as I would like to be. Now when I say children's lit, I don't mean picture books. I mean the books that are in the juvenile section of the library between the picture books and the young adult books. Of course, when you are not well-read, you can take easy steps to fix the problem like, actually reading the books you haven't read. When I want to correct something, I look for what has already been vetted as the best, which means looking up Newbery winners. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin was the 1979 Newbery recipient and had a premise that most definitely appealed to my sensibilities.

I am sure you know the premise of Clue. If not, go to your nearest store and pick up the game. Fun will follow. Or pick up the DVD, it's probably in the Wal Mart bargain bin, or at least the copy I have was. Well, the premise of the Westing Game is that a select group of people go to this mansion thinking they are heirs to the Westing Fortune. The twist though, is that one of the heirs is the murderer. *gasp* And no, I did not spoil that, it's in like the first 10 pages. Therefore the heirs must piece together the clues to discover the murderer and emerge victorious and with money in hand.

There are 16 players and consequently 16 suspects participating in The Westing Game. You would think with so many characters it would be hard to distinguish them or they would fall into tired stereotypes. I actually found the players to be rather nuanced. Each is given a back history and a story. Their motivations are fascinating. I honestly really felt for the players, as we see what they struggle with.

There was one character in particular whom I really loved, Turtle Wexler. She was flawed and self-conscious. Her mother basically ignored her in favor of her perfect sister. Turtle hides behind her braid. Yet she is eccentric in that she is obsessed with stocks. I felt that Turtle was a fully realized character. And here's the thing, I think children deserve characters who are fully realized, not second rate cardboard characters.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that I thought I had the culprit all figured out, cause ya know I am an adult and clearly smarter than the intended audience, children. GUYZ, do not be arrogant like me. Children are actually smarter than we give credit for. Anyways, I was definitely wrong and Raskin pulled the wool over on me. I loved how clever the story was. Clever makes me happy. The ending, although it made me melancholy was perfect.

I wish I had read this when I was younger. It's one of those books that is both delightful and melancholy at the same time. I liked the realism, yet it also called for a suspension of disbelief. It walks this line quite well. Perhaps you have felt the sting of first reading something in adulthood which should have been something you cherished during childhood. I am sad I came to this book late, but at least I have experienced it, and I guess that is enough.
… (more)
LibraryThing member bookworm12
I first read The Westing Game when I was 9-years-old. I think my older sister read it and recommended it to me (which any of you with siblings know, probably means she told me I was too young to read it, so I had to steal her copy and read it immediately).

From the first pages I was hooked. It was completely different from anything I'd read before. A wealthy man, Samuel Westing, dies unexpectedly and leaves riddles and games in his wake. His strange will leaves his fortune to 16 tenants who live or work in a local apartment building, but it's not without a catch. Those 16 people become competitors in a game to find Westing's murderer.

The book was the 1979 Newbery award and introduced me to the world of quirky mysteries. Ever since I've loved reading books with a good twist. This was my precursor to Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier and dozens of others.

The Westing Game also taught me that any book is made richer when you care about the characters and not just the plot. In The Westing Game, a 13-year-old named Turtle gave me someone to identify with. She's a tomboy and a spitfire and I loved her. The other 16 competitors include a young track star, a bride-to-be and a Chinese couple among others. There's such a rich cast that the wonderful plot becomes secondary, always a plus for me.

I wish that all of you read this book when you were young, because I'm sure that's when it would have the biggest impact. But if you missed it then, I hope you pick it up soon.
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LibraryThing member booksandwine
I don't often read children's books. I don't consider YA to be children's literature. This means I am not as well-read in a certain genre as I would like to be. Now when I say children's lit, I don't mean picture books. I mean the books that are in the juvenile section of the library between the picture books and the young adult books. Of course, when you are not well-read, you can take easy steps to fix the problem like, actually reading the books you haven't read. When I want to correct something, I look for what has already been vetted as the best, which means looking up Newbery winners. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin was the 1979 Newbery recipient and had a premise that most definitely appealed to my sensibilities.I am sure you know the premise of Clue. If not, go to your nearest store and pick up the game. Fun will follow. Or pick up the DVD, it's probably in the Wal Mart bargain bin, or at least the copy I have was. Well, the premise of the Westing Game is that a select group of people go to this mansion thinking they are heirs to the Westing Fortune. The twist though, is that one of the heirs is the murderer. *gasp* And no, I did not spoil that, it's in like the first 10 pages. Therefore the heirs must piece together the clues to discover the murderer and emerge victorious and with money in hand. There are 16 players and consequently 16 suspects participating in The Westing Game. You would think with so many characters it would be hard to distinguish them or they would fall into tired stereotypes. I actually found the players to be rather nuanced. Each is given a back history and a story. Their motivations are fascinating. I honestly really felt for the players, as we see what they struggle with.There was one character in particular whom I really loved, Turtle Wexler. She was flawed and self-conscious. Her mother basically ignored her in favor of her perfect sister. Turtle hides behind her braid. Yet she is eccentric in that she is obsessed with stocks. I felt that Turtle was a fully realized character. And here's the thing, I think children deserve characters who are fully realized, not second rate cardboard characters.What I really enjoyed about this book is that I thought I had the culprit all figured out, cause ya know I am an adult and clearly smarter than the intended audience, children. GUYZ, do not be arrogant like me. Children are actually smarter than we give credit for. Anyways, I was definitely wrong and Raskin pulled the wool over on me. I loved how clever the story was. Clever makes me happy. The ending, although it made me melancholy was perfect. I wish I had read this when I was younger. It's one of those books that is both delightful and melancholy at the same time. I liked the realism, yet it also called for a suspension of disbelief. It walks this line quite well. Perhaps you have felt the sting of first reading something in adulthood which should have been something you cherished during childhood. I am sad I came to this book late, but at least I have experienced it, and I guess that is enough.… (more)
LibraryThing member PinkPandaParade
A children's mystery classic, Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game is a remarkable whodunit, with a likable cast of characters and a complicated and enjoyable storyline. Sixteen heirs are brought together by the will of an odd and quirky millionaire by the name of Samuel Westing. What these characters have in common, and why they were chosen is the ultimate mystery of the book, but wrapped up in this is the fortune itself, which can be won only by deciphering the one-word clues each set of heirs is given at the will's reading. From this comes an adventure that was as enjoyable to me at age 6 as it is now. The book, with funny, appealing(albeit mildly stereotyped and somewhat cartoonish) characters, is an enthralling mystery and a quick and enjoyable read. Children, I imagine, will relate as I did to Turtle Wexler, the youngest (and possibly the smartest) potential heir, either with her smarts or her annoying traits is up to the reader. However there are also other characters to enjoy, and the situations they often find themselves in lead to interesting and often laugh-out-loud interactions. As it was first copyrighted in 1978, this book is only beginning now to slightly show its age a little in the storyline, but not so much that it should be alien to new young readers of the tale. (Anyone who can should get their hands on the book on CD with the reading done by Jeff Woodman - it's a lot of fun to listen to). Touted as a puzzle mystery, the main 'selling point', if you will, of the novel is that it allows the reader insight into all of the clues, something that is not an initial privilege of any of the characters. This allows readers to be empowered to solve the mystery themselves, an interesting plot element that has caused, according to one reviewer on here, this novel to be featured as part of their math class, and a definitely alluring approach for junior sleuths out there. Raskin is adept at presenting an ensemble cast that rivals the best Robert Altman film in its twists and turns, comedic elements, quirky character intricacies, and a deviously clever conclusion. At a mere 196 pages, this is well worth a read.… (more)
LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
This one's a cute little mystery, played out amongst an odd collection of characters. A self made millionaire, Samuel W. Westing has died, and instead of a traditional will, he has left a mystery. A game, actually. Sixteen people are potential heirs, all they have to do to get the fortune is solve the mystery of who killed Westing. By the bizarre terms of the will, each heir is partnered with another, none of whom are related to the others. So you get husband competing against wife, children against their parents. One refreshing aspect of the book is that you don't get the stereotypical animosity you would expect with a formula potboiler. Some teams are very competitive, some are quite willing to work with the others. Despite the anxiety caused by a thief and a bomber operating behind the scenes, you see a growth in many of the characters. So if you're in the mood for a quirky, light hearted mystery, check this one out. It's fun.
--J.
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LibraryThing member OtwellS
I really enjoyed this book. I have looked forward to reading it and I finally got the chance and I was not disappointed. I was able to figure out some of the clues but I must confess that I did not make all the leaps necessary to have won the $200 million myself. I was very happy and pleased with the overall outcome of this book. I am not surprised that it is a Newbery Medal Winner book, this was a very good book and I will probably read it again in the near future.… (more)
LibraryThing member jmchshannon
I love this book. It is one of the few books I read in elementary school that really stuck with me through the years. I even bought a copy for Connor two years ago in hopes that he would love it as much as I did. (He thought it was okay.) When dusting yesterday, I picked it up again and, well, you know how it goes. After two pages, I was sucked back into the mystery and had to finish it. (I did finish cleaning the house first.)

The mystery remains hands-down one of the best mysteries I have ever read. Even though I remembered the ending, I still had difficulties finding the clues to the solution. I even started second-guessing my memory as I was thrown off the track by various subplots I had forgotten. The version I read had an introduction from a friend of the author who mentioned that Raskin, when writing it, did not know how the story was going to unfold. As she mentioned to her friend, if she knew how it was going to end, then she would have been bored writing it. While this could have been disastrous to the plot, instead Raskin gave us a story line that never grows stale, in which the drama continues to build all the while keeping the audience guessing as to how it was all going to end. Raskin definitely did not grow bored while writing The Westing Game, and a reader does not grow bored reading it either!

Her friend also mentioned that Raskin was not good around kids; she could not relate to them. As The Westing Game is a children's novel, her trick was not talking down to children but talking up to them - appealing to the adult in each child, if you will. This ability of hers to speak to children on a more adult level makes this particular novel appealing to young and old, in spite of what my son said.

If you haven't had the pleasure of reading The Westing Game, I highly recommend picking up a copy. It is a very quick read, easily finished in the course of an afternoon or two. If you have had the pleasure, I would recommend picking it up again and rediscovering what a gem this children's book is and finding out how much you can enjoy it even as an adult.
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LibraryThing member cbl_tn
This is a mystery for people who love word games. Sam Westing, the millionaire whose will orchestrates a game for the 16 potential heirs, is described as eccentric. It seemed to me that most of the heirs are eccentric, too. Each character has a habit or distinguishing trait that seems to define his or her personality and relationships with other people. The puzzle itself, rather than the prose, is the book's main attraction. I enjoyed the puzzle, but now that I know the solution(s), I don't think it's a book I'll be picking up again.… (more)
LibraryThing member lalfonso
This book is a “who done it” murder mystery. A man dies and in his will he promises the residents of an apartment building that whoever solved his murder would get his millions. It makes a for a great introduction murder mystery. Even though it’s a children’s book, it’s not an easy book to read and comprehend. It requires the reader to be an active participant by paying close attention to the clues that are embedded in the text. It is great for critical thinking and inferencing.… (more)
LibraryThing member glade1
This is a complex, clever story of a group of people who are drawn into a "game" to discover a murderer and win an inheritance. It has a large, diverse cast of characters and everyone has a secret. Who murdered Sam Westing? Who is his true heir? Who is the thief? Who is the bomber? There is lots of intrigue as well as stories of friendships and families, successes and failures. I found it highly enjoyable and my 11-year-old son liked it as well. We discussed and guessed and second-guessed all the way through! In spite of the fact that the book is more than 30 years old, the story does not feel dated at all; it could have happened last week, and has a timeless feel.… (more)
LibraryThing member jsafarik
Justin Safarik
July 20, 2009

The Westing Game

For a book to be remembered by its reader it must capture their attention, and heighten the need for further reading when you have reached the end of an exciting chapter. As the reader you are drawn to learn more about the constantly thickening plot of murder and deceit, which is exactly what The Westing Game entails. There are however, a few potential flaws in the overall presentation of the novel. There are too many characters throughout the story, which can easily confuse the reader as a result of all of the names. Although a possible down side of the book, it is actually one of the factors that got me interested in it because of the unique aspect of having so many interesting characters. Another reason I enjoyed this book is that it is both a mystery and an adventure book, and brings together two reading demographics. The story is able to capture those essences very well, in its main conflict, of who the true heir to the Westing fortune is. Also that fact that it is told from a third person perspective allows the characters to be analyzed in greater depth.
Overall, it was the storyline that was one of the greatest highlights of the book because it never seems to have a resolution until the end scene, even though it provides many different explanations throughout the story for the game, its creator, and the heirs. This trait is also a big part of the mystery. Every character seems to have their intake on the events. Even though they all seem reasonable, it is shown that most of them have flaws. An important lesson that I took away from this story was to expect the unexpected because as demonstrated in this story no matter how solid and airtight your solution about the back story of one of the heirs seems, there is always one flaw that proves your solution to this great mystery false.
The most interesting aspect that The Westing Game embodies for me was that of guessing, and how throughout the story, you too are always trying to reason out the events, through either logic or misperception of the characters. Not only was it the intertwining plotline and the guessing game that intrigued me, but it was also the 16 or so main characters in the book, which is uncommon in any novel. By doing this the author was able to make a very deep and intuitive story with less background of each character. Due to all of these factors this book easily became one of my favorite novels. From the great writing style and the multitudes of underlying plotlines of the heirs and heiresses that change the story in so many ways to the number of intriguing characters. I would recommend it for any age reader and having won the Newberry medal greatly distinguishes this book that has broken boundaries with the writers intuitive style and new age thinking. Overall this is an essential read for both thrill-seekers, and mystery fanatics alike, no matter what their age.
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LibraryThing member jubjub_luver1
Very good mystery book. Full of humor and twists. I recommend this book fully. Characters are unique and interesting.
LibraryThing member mrlzbth
I tried to read this several times as a child and was never able to get past the first chapter--I thought it was boring and dated. Returning to it as a 28 year-old, I did get all the way through it but was still distinctly underwhelmed. There were some things I liked, chiefly the presence of several strong female characters (including a female African-American judge as one of the main characters, pretty impressive for a children's book from 1979!). Raskin does a good job of making all her main characters seem interesting and like potential culprits, though often there are simply too many characters onstage for the reader to feel a strong emotional connection to any one of them.

The mystery itself, however, was unsatisfying and depends on none of the sixteen characters investigating the 'clues' given to them being able to recognize the fairly obvious source of those clues until VERY late in the book. I found this frustrating as an adult reader and can only imagine how impatient I would have gotten in my younger days. There are also several things that simply haven't aged well, including racial stereotypes and the use of the word "Mongoloid" to describe someone with Down's Syndrome. All in all, though I can understand that people admire The Westing Game for being different and for having a much more complex plot than most juvenile mysteries do, I feel like I didn't miss out on all that much by not reading it when I was younger.
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LibraryThing member jfoster_sf
This mystery was very crazy at first-you get introduced to a dozen different characters in just a few pages, all from their own perspective. Keep going in the book though and you begin to make sense of everything and it turns out to be a great whodunnit mystery.
LibraryThing member notemily
I recently reread this, and enjoyed it even more than I did as a child. The entire book is so well-put-together, it's amazing. And despite being written over thirty years ago, it's barely aged a day--as long as you don't notice that none of the characters have computers or cell phones. (I bet mysteries were easier to write back then.)… (more)
LibraryThing member irishwasherwoman
What a fun read - even as an adult! Working at keeping who's who and what the aliances are among the characters are the challenges to reading this novel. The writing is solid and the story line plays to the true human spirit - whether looking at the good side of man or the bad. It teaches a wonderful lesson while pointing out all of man's flaws.… (more)
LibraryThing member LAteacher
The mysterious death of an eccentric millionaire brings together an unlikely assortment of heirs ho must uncover the circumstances of his death before they can claim their inheritance. One fateful day, sixteen people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. To their surprise, the will turns out to be a contest, challenging the heirs to find out who among them is Westing's murderer. Forging ahead, though blizzards, burglaries, and bombings, the game is on. Only two people hold all the clues. One of them is a Westing heir. The other is you!… (more)
LibraryThing member qcook2
this is not my favorite book but it is an okay one. I like the fact that there are cliffhangers at the end of every chapter. there are mysteries at the end of every chapter and you half to keep reading to find out the answers. you will never guess the answers ahead of time because they are so unexpeting, for example there is a bomber and there is a suspisious person but they did not do it.… (more)
LibraryThing member gillis.sarah
This is one of the best books I"ve ever read, and definitely up there in my top five or so children's books. It's a mystery for people who don't necessarily love mysteries, a logic puzzle, a comedy, a story about community, and it's fantastic.
LibraryThing member jjallen
I like this book because i's a good mystery and fun to read, and you can test your smarts along with the characters.
LibraryThing member Lebron6
I rated The Westing Game 5/5 stars. The setting of the book is in Westingtown, Wisconsin at Sunset Towers and the Westing Mansion. There are a lot of cliffhangers in the story. One cliffhanger occurred after several bombings took place in Shin Hoo's Restaurant and the Coffee Shop located in Sunset Towers. You don't know who did it, so you are left confused and you want to find out clues to who did it. A character that was interesting was Chris Theodorakis. He is very clever. He was also very obedient because Denton Deere had to say a lot and Chris went along with it. That was on page 112. The Westing Games was very suspenseful. There were many twists. Just when you think you know something a twist happens. It is also very suspenseful. It made you want to keep reading, which is good in a book. Also, some of the characters are in disguise and are not who they say they are. The Westing Game is one of the best books I have ever read.… (more)
LibraryThing member KBroun
This is an entertaining mystery perfect for all ages. Ellen Raskin does a wonderful job of keeping the reader in the dark at the beginning of the novel and then gradually pulling out more and more back story to illuminate the plot. My only real criticism is the limited setting. It seemed like the residents of Sunset Towers never left, with the one or two exceptions when Otis Amber was followed. I understand such narratives were likely left out to keep the novel more concise, but at the same time, it also makes it more limited.… (more)
LibraryThing member krau0098
I got this book in a clearance bundle of books that I bought to get a different book. I was trying to decide if I should read it or swap it and after seeing it was a Newberry Medal book I decided to read it. This was a very entertaining book.

In this book a number of people are offered the chance to move into an exclusive condo building. Shortly thereafter they receive notice that they have been listed in the will of the founder of Westing Paper Company. Only it is a bizarre will and rather than being straightforward it requires the potential heirs to engage themselves in a game to find out who murdered Mr. Westing. Thus the Westing Game begins.

This was a clever little book. It is not necessarily a quick read, since the reader must pay attention to all the little details in the book. Nonetheless I found myself enjoying this book immensely. It is a very classic mystery type of book and reads a bit like I would imagine a game of Clue would (if you could read a game).

There are many twists and many interesting characters. It was fun to try to figure out how all of the characters are tied to Mr. Westing. This was the type of book that you could either read and let it give you the answers or you could exercise your brain along the way and try to guess the answers before the book gives them to you.

Well written and very clever I thought this was a very interesting and entertaining book. It makes me want to check out more of Ellen Raskin's books.
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LibraryThing member ChristianR
A mystery in the tradition of Agatha Christie, The Westing Game (winner of the 1979 Newbery Award) is about seemingly unrelated people brought together to solve the mysterious death of a millionaire, with the possibility of inheriting his fortune. Nothing is as it seems to be. The mind-bending clues will interest young readers, but it is also dated.… (more)
LibraryThing member megmcg624
Diverse residents of a Wisconsin town are inveigled to rent apartments in the same building, then informed that they are competing with one another for the inheritance of Sam Westing's fortune - but one of them murdered Westing! Readers solve the puzzle along with the characters, with successive clues.

This Newbery Medal winning text has aged well; readers will find little to date the engaging, fast-paced mystery. Each character's point of view is considered, ultimately leading to a feeling of community among the disparate residents. This would be a good recommendation for upper elementary students who like solving puzzles.… (more)

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Lexile

750L

Pages

185

Rating

(1874 ratings; 4.1)
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