Linda Lipko's Reviews > What Would Joey Do?

What Would Joey Do? by Jack Gantos
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Feb 23, 12

bookshelves: young-adult
Read in February, 2012

I like this book so much that words will not suffice to list all the reasons why.

I'll start by stating that anyone who scoffs at the YA genre might want to give this a try and see if you feel the same after you have finished the final page.

No stranger to awards, Jack Gantos received the Newbery honor for Joey Pigza Loses Control, the Newbery Medal for Dead in Norvelt the Printz Honor and the Sibert Honor for Hole In My Life and he was a National Book Award finalist for Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key.

What Would Joey Do is the third book in the series of ADHD pre-teen Joey Pigza.

Gantos has the unique ability to create a loving character who struggles to cope with his disability. While he now can control the level of his medications and has a keen sense of what triggers episodes, his parents continue to be crazy and out of control.

Longing for stability in an exceedingly unstable home life, Joey's loving, but somewhat erratic grandma is one of the few sources of sanity. Hiding behind a plastic shower curtain in the living room, she puffs cigarettes in equal measure to oxygen. Warning him that her end is near, she tells Joey he must find a friend.

When he is home schooled by the mother of a blind, nasty girl, he adopts her as his friend. In this religious atmosphere, he is asked daily "What would Jesus do?" Claiming this mantra for himself, Joey decides to do good and thus tries to live his life by "What would Joey do?"

As his insane, hyper neglectful father races throughout town in a beat up motor cycle trying to re-claim his son and x wife, Joey's mother spins further into violent episodes of rage.

This book is heart wrenchingly sad and also humorously, undeniably funny.

In the end, Joey realizes that what he must do is take care of himself because no one else will.

Here is a quote that resonates:

"Everyone had to wake up to somebody. Everyone had to wake up to themselves. And I was wondering who I might be if I didn't have the nutty family I had. And then I realized it didn't matter where I came from. It was where I was going that counted. And as long as I helped myself, I'd be going in the right direction."

Destined to be one of my top reads for 2012.

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