Chris's Reviews > Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos
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's review
Jul 20, 2012

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bookshelves: boy-book, realistic-fiction

Joey Pigza is a hyperactive kid. He can’t sit still or hold on to a thought for very long before spiraling out of control. He’s on meds, but they only seem to work sometimes, and when they wear off – watch out!! He’s a good kid with a good heart, but he needs some help. After swallowing his house key in school, jumping off a barn roof on a field trip, and accidentally cutting off a piece of a girl’s nose in school, Joey gets sent in for a tune up at a special needs school. There he is tested and evaluated, his medicine is adjusted from pills to patch, and Joey calms down enough to go back to regular school. In the final sentence of the book, Joey actually is able to sit down and read a book!

My comments:
I enjoyed this book, and the author’s descriptions of Joey’s adventures with ADD are so frantically paced that it made me hyper just reading about them! The characters in the book are well written, especially Joey and his mom, who also struggles with getting better and staying focused. She had run off earlier in search of Joey’s father who had run off earlier in fit of his own hyperactivity. It didn’t work, and Joey’s father is still on the loose – somewhere! Joey lived with his grandmother, who also had issues and was somewhat abusive to Joey. Grandma took off once mom arrived. There are some really poignant moments with Joey and his mom, who he didn’t recognize when she finally came home. One thing I really liked about the book was that the responsible adults, teachers and doctors are written as good and caring people. Joey gets lots of hugs from teachers and nurses, and as Mrs. Howard, the school’s special ed teacher says, “We all need a second chance.” This would be a great book for boys and especially boys afflected with behavioral issues like Joey. This is also a quick read at 154 pages.
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