cover image Joey Pigza Loses Control

Joey Pigza Loses Control

Jack Gantos. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16.99 (195pp) ISBN 978-0-374-39989-4

First introduced in Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Gantos's hyperactive hero Joey Pigza has not lost any of his liveliness, but after undergoing therapy and a stint in special ed., he now can exercise a reasonable amount of self-controlDprovided he takes his meds. His mother has reluctantly agreed to let him spend the summer three hours from home with his father, an alcoholic who, so he claims, has taken steps to turn his life around. Readers will sight trouble ahead long before Joey's optimistic perception of his father grows blurry. Mr. Pigza is at least as ""wired"" as the old Joey, and when he resorts to his drinking habits and becomes belligerent, Joey (who still wants to win his father's favor) feels scared. Then Mr. Pigza, telling Joey his medicine patches are a ""crutch"" that Joey doesn't need, summarily flushes them down the toilet: ""You are liberated... You are your own man, in control of your own life,"" he announces. Joey is torn between wanting to call his mom immediately and sticking with his father. ""Even though I knew he was wrong,"" Joey says, ""he was my dad, and I wanted him to be right."" Like its predecessor, this high-voltage, honest novel mixes humor, pain, fear and courage with deceptive ease. Struggling to please everyone even as he sees himself hurtling toward disaster, Joey emerges as a sympathetic hero, and his heart of gold never loses its shine. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)