Sara's Reviews > Joey Pigza Loses Control

Joey Pigza Loses Control by Jack Gantos
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's review
Oct 24, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: realistic-fiction
Read in October, 2009

** spoiler alert **

Summary and Analysis:

Joey Pigza Loses Control is the second book in the Joey Pigza series and is appropriate for upper elementary or middle school students.

In this book, the story picks up right where Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key left off. Joey has just finished a year of school and the medicine patches that he now uses as a result of his stint at the special school are still working wonderfully. He feels like he is a different kid entirely. However, Joey is now alone every day, as his mother is at work. He tries to amuse himself by playing with his Chihuahua, Pedro, and practicing the trumpet but he finds himself getting into some trouble - not because he's "wired" but because he's bored. Finally, Joey finds out that he will be spending several weeks with his father in Pittsburg - as his father has approached lawyers about visitation rights and custody issues. Against her better judgment, Joey's mother brings him to see his father, Carter Pigza - who is living with Joey's grandmother.

As he was described in Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Carter Pigza is truly a large version of Joey. Carter displays a lot of the same ADHD symptoms that Joey had, along with a criminal record, a smoking habit, and alcohol abuse. Although Joey really wants to have a relationship with his father, he feels torn because of Carter's behavior and the fact that they never truly have a conversation due to the fact that Carter speaks a mile a minute. Things begin to look up for the father and son when Carter discovers Joey's amazing pitching arm and Joey joins the baseball team that Carter coaches, as a part of Carter's mandated community service stemming from a DUI. However, problems begin to start for Joey when his father flushes all of his medicine patches down the toilet and begins to talk about Joey moving in with him permanently. Joey becomes frightened of his father's wild mood swings and intense temper as well as his own deteriorating focus and winds up running away during the final game of the baseball championship. Luckily, Joey is able to contact his mother, who comes just in time to take him home safely.

I must say that I enjoyed this book just as much as the first one in the series, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. Both books were short, quick reads because of the way that Jack Gantos pulls the reader into the story. Joey is a likeable character and I found myself really pulling for his success. The interesting thing about this book is the contrast between how Joey is in the first book and how he is in this book. As Joey says himself in Joey Pigza Loses Control, there are two Joeys - the old wired Joey and the new Joey. He fears that the old wired Joey will come back because he is just around his father and once he is without his patches - the old Joey really does come back. The scary thing is that Joey didn't even realize, initially, when the "old Joey" was back. After a few days of being off of his medication, Joey spent an entire day running around Pittsburg doing the craziest things. Joey, as he described what he was doing, was complimenting himself on staying in control and being normal. It wasn't until the very end of the book that Joey realized how bad things had become for him again, and reached out to his mother for help.

I think the Joey Pigza books are a great resource for anyone who knows a child with ADHD. It was very insightful for me to see into the mind of a child with this condition and to see what their thought processes are and how they really do try to be "normal" even though it might not seem like it.
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10/24/2009 page 17

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