We've got your back. With the Tough-O-Meter, you'll know whether to bring extra layers or Swiss army knives as you summit the literary mountain. (10 = Toughest)
(2) Base Camp
Dead End in Norvelt might be hilarious, but it brings up some pretty weighty questions about growing up, war, secrets and dishonesty, our responsibilities toward other members of our community, and what to do when your town is attacked by Hells Angels (pro tip: don't try to chase them down on a tricycle).
But don't let all this heavy stuff scare you off: Jack Gantos's style and language are fairly straightforward. Be prepared for many brief digressions that read like fun history lessons. Also look out for the occasional unfamiliar vocabulary word, like "abscond" (2.77) and "noxious" (26.61). Other than that, you should be good to go.