JOEY PIGZA LOSES CONTROL by Jack Gantos
Kirkus Star

JOEY PIGZA LOSES CONTROL

Age Range: 11 - 13

KIRKUS REVIEW

As if Joey didn’t get into enough trouble in his unforgettable debut, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (1998), Gantos has him wig out again in this sad, scary, blackly funny sequel. His hyperactivity under control thanks to new meds, Joey is looking forward to a six-week stay with his father Carter, hoping for some bonding. Unfortunately, his mother’s warning: “. . . he can be, you know, wired like you, only he’s bigger.” understates the case. As a father, not to say a human being, Carter turns out to be appallingly dysfunctional: irresponsible, utterly self-centered, domineering, callous, and ominously short-fused. Smart enough to see through his father’s loud assertions that he’s turned over a new leaf, Joey nonetheless struggles to please, even when Carter flushes Joey’s medication down the toilet, insisting that real men only need willpower to solve their personal problems. Joey tries to tough it out, hoping (despite bitter experience) that this time he won’t go spinning off. Swept along by Joey’s breathless narrative, readers will share his horrified fascination as, bit by bit, he watches the bad old habits and behavior come back. Joey’s emphysemic Grandma, alternating drags on a cigarette with whiffs of oxygen as she trundles about the neighborhood in a shopping cart, and his Chihuahua Pablo, who survives both being locked in a glove compartment and having his ear pierced by a dart, provide the closest thing to comic relief here. The situation takes a dangerous turn when Joey eggs Carter into a wild rage; fortunately, his mother is just a phone call away, waiting in the wings to bail him out. Carter is truly frightening, a vision of what Joey could grow up to be, did he not possess the inner honesty to acknowledge his limitations (eventually), and caring adults to help him. A tragic tale in many ways, but a triumph too. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 2000
ISBN: 0-374-39989-1
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2000




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