Book: Joey Pigza Loses Control

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Joey Pigza Loses Control

Author: Jack Gantos
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

When Joey Pigza meets his dad, Carter, for the first time in years, he meets a grownup version of his old hyperactive self—the way he was before his stint in special ed, the way he was before he got his new meds. “ He was wired, No doubt about it…, Now I knew what Mom meant when she said he was like me, only bigger.”

During their summer visit together, Carter is eager to make up to his son for past wrongs. He wants to teach Joey how to be a winner. He wants to show Joey how to take control of his own life. And Joey is willing to do whatever his dad says, even though—in this high-energy sequel to the acclaimed Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key—he fears it will do him more harm than good.

“All I could imagine was the worst part of me getting or a train a long ways off. That old Joey was coming to get me and I couldn’t do anything about it… There was nothing to do but wait, and worry.”


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

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