Book Review: The Westing Game

Posted June 6, 2014 by Lyn Kaye in book review, Lyn / 6 Comments

Book Review: The Westing GameThe Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Published by Puffin on June 6th, 1978
Genres: middle grade, mystery-thriller
Pages: 182
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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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, one things' for sure: Sam Westing may be dead... but that won't stop him from playing one last game!

I, once again, blame Wendy Darling for this pick! I am attempting to steep myself into more award-winning books, while delving into the classics.  I also noticed I am into a Middle Grade/children book kick at the moment, so it was a wonderful time to go ahead and pick up this long overdue book.

The Westing Game is one of the milder Newbery honor books. Touching and clever, this book is a softer take in the generally cold and cruel murder-mystery genre.

Characters: Since this is a group murder mystery, there is a overwhelming large cast.  Some are developed well, and some are just there for the purpose of the story. Giving my thoughts about the characters is a little difficult for this reason.

Even though this was the main attraction of The Westing Game, I felt a certain disconnection from the characters.  For one, I had certain issues with Turtle. This is the number one favorite among readers.  However, I did really enjoy Angela.  I could feel a certain level of appreciation for this character.  Overall, my indifference towards the character and some of the rushed, forced pairing at the end caused me to feel slightly manipulated. I liked the subject of cultural expectations of Asian women, and the demands set by parents on children, and how it can warp a child’s sense of self.

Setting: I tend to get upset over death and murder in a story, so I liked the gentler mystery. I thought this was a more compelling book than the more mature novels. This book was written in 1978, so some of the language and the culture are dated.  However, it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the book.

The ending was a tad on the cheesy side, however, it was expected for a middle grade novel.

Writing: This was one of the strongest portions of the books. Symbolism, foreshadowing and minor twists to the plot kept my interest in the storyline. I was very pleased with the straight forward, yet emotionally-painted storytelling.

Romance: Not much on this front, since it is middle grade.


The Westing Game runs in the same pack as other one-of-us murder mysteries.  Thanks to the kid-friendly approach, this book centers around character interaction and dynamics. For murder-mystery fans, this lighthearted approach to the genre is a nice story to add to your collection.

6 responses to “Book Review: The Westing Game

  1. I saw” Westing House” in my email and *had* to see what you thought. (New reader and lurker) This was the book that introduced me to mysteries in the 4th grade. I think I’ll have to dig out my nearly 30 year old copy and give it a read!

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