The loveable, disaster-prone hero of Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key
is back, this time in charge of his attention deficit disorder and ready to greet the world as a normal kid--with the help of his new and improved meds, of course. Now that Joey has a handle on his actions, he feels prepared to face the most mysterious member of his family--his estranged father, Carter Pigza. He convinces his skeptical mom to let him spend part of his summer vacation getting to know his dad again. The only problem is that Joey's dad is just as wired as Joey used to be: "I looked over at his mouth, which never seemed to close--not even the lips touched together--and it made me dizzy to listen to him." Carter believes that Joey can kick his ADD the way he himself kicked alcoholism--cold turkey. But when Carter flushes his meds, Joey has to decide if being friends with his dad is worth losing his hard-won self-control. "That old Joey was coming to get me and I couldn't do anything about it... I closed my eyes and told myself to sleep while I could."
Jack Gantos's second book about Joey Pigza is just as delightful and soulful as his first. Joey's attempts to keep the fragile peace in his life intact are touching, and his intense longing to just be normal will mirror the feelings of most preteens, whether they have ADD or not. Joey Pigza may sometimes lose control, but he never loses his heart. This is an exceptional sequel. (Ages 10 and older) --Jennifer Hubert
From Publishers Weekly
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.)
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