If you’ve already read what I’ve written about the first two books in this series (Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key and Joey Pigza Loses Control) you can guess pretty easily that I love this book as well and heartily recommend it to you.
And you would be right. There really is no such thing as a perfect book, especially for kids, but this one, like all the Joey Pigza books, arcs so close to perfection that very little daylight can be seen between. So if you haven’t read any of these books, I insist that you do, or we simply can’t be friends any more.
Now that we’ve got all of that out the way, this is probably the best of the Joey Pigza books to date. Joey is here, along with mom Fran, his dad Carter, his dog Pablo, and Grandma. Pablo gets a girlfriend (a Chihuahua Joey dubs Pablita), Joey gets an unexpected friend, and Grandma finally gets to say wha’t been on her mind all along.
You may have noticed that I don’t get as deeply into these books as I do some other. I don’t want to analyze them too deeply or say too much about the plot, because I don’t want to give too much away. I just want to recommend these books to as many people as possible, without getting too deeply into why they work. I’m content to let you figure that out for yourself.
And because I love these books, and have a great deal of affection for Joey himself, I won’t get too deep here. A really good book defies any quick or easy analysis, anyway. What I really to do instead is to point out to you how chaotic this book seems to be. Even Joey’s mom, who, despite her alcoholic tendencies, has seemed like a pillar of strength and stability, seems to have gone around the twist in this book.
None of this chaos is gratuitous, however. Jack Gantos isn’t just milking the cow here, nor has he decided to turn the thumbscrews on Joey. What is happening is that as Joey finally establishes control over his internal world, that control allows him to see the real world through clear lenses and to see how crazy and messed up that outside world is. So just as Joey gains control of his mind and his body, he begins to realize how little control all the grown-ups around him actually have.
And that’s it. That’s all I’m going to say about this book. I love it and respect it enough to let it stand on its own. So shut down your computer, head over to a bookstore or library, and get these books. You’ll be glad you did.
Age: 10 and up. Recommendation: a book you must read.
Gantos, Jack. What Would Joey Do? New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007.