On My Bookshelf: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

April 03, 2017

In The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, 16 near strangers are named as heirs to millionaire Sam Westing, but in order to claim their inheritance, they must solve the mystery of who killed Sam Westing. The players are paired up and only one pair can win. Clues are stolen, three bombs explode, and family members are keeping secrets from one another as each pair desperately hopes to win. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, on things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

Why I liked it: The Westing Game hosts a large cast of characters. All have recently moved into the same new apartment building: some are families with children, others are lone figures. The figures are also s mix of occupations and economic statuses. They are all called upon to play Sam Westing's game, but their true interconnections are revealed as events unfold.
In The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, 16 near strangers are named as heirs to millionaire Sam Westing, but in order to claim their inheritance, they must solve the mystery of who killed Sam Westing. The players are paired up and only one pair can win. Clues are stolen, three bombs explode, and family members are keeping secrets from one another as each pair desperately hopes to win. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

The mystery of the game is just as much a puzzle to the reader as it is to the characters. Trying to solve the mystery brings together unusual pairs: a seamstress and a preteen girl, a judge and a young man confused to a wheelchair, and housekeeper and a private detective in disguise as a delivery man. Other characters come out of their shell, like Angela who feels like she is nothing but a bride to be and Sunny who longs to return to China.

I love how everything comes together in the end, but the puzzle is only solved by the youngest player of the game. I always wonder if authors plan out novels with such intricate plots before they begin to write or if they are able to weave things together add they go.

Classroom application: The novel would be appropriate for middle school or high school students of either gender. And though it is a mystery, there are no gruesome or violent scenes. It would be a great add to your classroom library or could be used as part of a genre study.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Westing Game for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:



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