The Westing Game
by Ellen Raskin
Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Amused, Ironic, Unforgiving, Empathetic
In the strategy-based Westing game, it's the narrator who holds all the cards. We might think Westing is smart for designing such a complicated, tricky game, but ultimately the narrator's even smarter; she/he keeps track of the puzzle, the real solution, and each of the heirs' possible, constantly evolving answers. The narrator always knows things that the characters don't, which sometimes comes out as a delicious irony that's shared only with the reader. From time to time the narrator pokes gentle fun at the heirs as they bumble into and around the clues they're given, but she/he can also be almost cruel in stripping away characters' cover ups and shields to reveal the true selves they're hiding. The narrator empathizes with characters who are in bad spots, and gets us readers to feel empathetic too, while never disguising the prejudiced or hurtful thoughts of the book's characters.