The 100 Best YA Books of All Time
August 11, 2021 7:34 AM EDT

Eccentric millionaire Samuel W. Westing is found dead in his bed, with an envelope on the nightstand labeled, “If I am found dead in bed.” Days later, 16 people are summoned to the reading of Westing’s will, where they learn that, before his death, Westing devised a game in which they are all now participants. The prize: his $200 million estate. The test: to find out which of the players killed him. As the characters work to uncover the murderer, they carefully observe one another’s behavior in search of clues—an engaging premise for young adults who are working hard to understand the grown-up world and their place in it. But what appears at first to be a simple whodunit is in fact an exhilarating, elaborate narrative that employs riddles and puzzles to experiment with form and works in a critique of capitalism and several references to Depression-era labor history. Ellen Raskin, who is also the accomplished illustrator behind the original cover of A Wrinkle in Time, won a Newbery Medal for The Westing Game. —Shay Maunz

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