Joey Pigza Loses Control (Joey Pigza Series #2)

Joey Pigza Loses Control (Joey Pigza Series #2)

4.1 66
by Jack Gantos

View All Available Formats & Editions

The sequel to Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, a National Book Award Finalist

When Joey Pigza meets his dad for the first time in years, he meets a grown-up version of his old out-of-control self. Carter Pigza is as wired as Joey used to be -- before his stint in special ed, and before he got his new meds.

Joey's mom reluctantly agrees that he can stay

…  See more details below


The sequel to Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, a National Book Award Finalist

When Joey Pigza meets his dad for the first time in years, he meets a grown-up version of his old out-of-control self. Carter Pigza is as wired as Joey used to be -- before his stint in special ed, and before he got his new meds.

Joey's mom reluctantly agrees that he can stay with his dad for a summer visit, which sends Joey racing with sky-high hopes that he and Carter can finally get to know each other. But as the weeks whirl by, Carter has bigger plans in mind. He decides that just as he has pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, Joey can do the same and become as normal as any kid, without the help of a doctor's prescription. Carter believes Joey can do it and Joey wants to believe him more than anything in the world.

Here is the continuation of Jack Gantos' acclaimed Joey Pigza story, affirming not only that Joey Pigza is a true original but that it runs in the family.

Joey Pigza Loses Control is a 2000 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year and a 2001 Newbery Honor Book.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a starred review, PW said, "Like its predecessor, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, this high-voltage, honest novel mixes humor, pain, fear and courage with deceptive ease." Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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-control--provided 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.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
In this National Book Award Finalist selection, Gantos introduces a young boy learning to cope with ADHD. Joey has medicine and strategies in this sequel, but he is still the same Joey. In the opening scene, he sets up living room pillows as targets, accidentally pierces his dog's ear, then solves the problem with a hoop earring. Soon after, Joey is off to live with his heavy-drinking, egocentric father for the first time. He is also living with his grandmother, who switches from crabby to cruel as quickly as she alternates smoking a cigarette and gulping fresh air from her oxygen machine. Readers will sympathize with Joey as his father rationalizes drinking, throws out Joey's medicine, and continually disappoints him. But none of these situations take away Joey's original retorts and comical, unique solutions to problems. Joey's biggest improvement may be his knowledge of self and how he applies it to better control his life. His wisdom and experience with failure show when he sizes up his grandmother. He knows she will always be her two selves—one nice and funny, and the other mean and scary. She will not change because she never feels that anything she does is wrong. All the changing is up to Joey, who says, "That was okay because I knew I could be wrong most of the time." Gantos' writing excellence shows in the way he allows the reader to draw conclusions, while Joey only experiences situations. Gantos still gives us what we love best about Joey—neither medicine nor a bad situation can take away his comic responses. This artist has created a satisfying follow-up. 2000, Farrar, $16.00. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
In this sequel to Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998/VOYA February 1999), Joey begins his visit with his father on a relatively even keel because of the medication he takes to treat his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is not, however, an easy father-and-son reunion, as Carter Pigza is an adult version of the non-medicated Joey, so wired that "a humming sound [comes] out of his body." Joey pitches for the baseball team that his father coaches, and Carter has plans for a winning season. Joey handles the demanding role of being the hotshot pitcher-son of the coach until Carter decides that Joey is a normal kid who does not need "crutches" and flushes Joey's medicine down the toilet. Although he wants to believe in his father, Joey knows that it will not be long before the old wired Joey comes back. The reader is drawn into Joey's struggle for self-control while his medication wears off and as his father's behavior becomes more erratic with the increased consumption of alcohol. Through Joey's narration, Gantos brilliantly portrays the often-manic pace of an ADHD mind, but he alleviates the tension with touches of humor. Joey accidentally pierces his Chihuahua Pablo's ear with a wayward dart and wants to put an earring in the hole. His mother is not amused, although the reader cannot help but smile at Joey's antics. Joey is a young teen struggling to maintain control in an often out-of-control world, a struggle with which many teens will relate. Gantos's style of writing and the subject matter make this book a great middle school read-aloud. VOYA CODES: 5Q 5P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Every YA (who reads) was dying to readit yesterday; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Farrar Straus Giroux, 196p. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Ruth Cox VOYA, February 2001 (Vol. 23, No.6)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-In Patricia Reilly Giff's young adult novel (Delacorte, 2000) set in 1845 at the beginning of the Potato Famine, 12-year-old Nory Ryan is a strong young Irish girl. Hearing Nory's story recounted in actress Susan Lynch's lilting Irish accent brings the time and place alive. Nory's story is not a happy one, but listeners will be drawn into her moving tale and want to find out if Nory and her family will get through each long, hungry day in Maidin Bay and make it to Brooklyn, New York, where "no one was hungry." The two English characters in the story--Lord Cunningham, the landlord, and his agent, Devlin--are presented as unfeeling and heartless. The Irish are presented as both good and bad, willing to give up their last coin and not adverse to stealing someone's last coin. This period in Irish history is realistically recreated for listeners.-Suzanne Libra, Huron Middle School, Northglenn, CO Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
As if Joey didn't get into enough trouble in his unforgettable debut, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (1998), Gantos has him wig out again in this sad, scary, blackly funny sequel. His hyperactivity under control thanks to new meds, Joey is looking forward to a six-week stay with his father Carter, hoping for some bonding. Unfortunately, his mother's warning: ". . . he can be, you know, wired like you, only he's bigger." understates the case. As a father, not to say a human being, Carter turns out to be appallingly dysfunctional: irresponsible, utterly self-centered, domineering, callous, and ominously short-fused. Smart enough to see through his father's loud assertions that he's turned over a new leaf, Joey nonetheless struggles to please, even when Carter flushes Joey's medication down the toilet, insisting that real men only need willpower to solve their personal problems. Joey tries to tough it out, hoping (despite bitter experience) that this time he won't go spinning off. Swept along by Joey's breathless narrative, readers will share his horrified fascination as, bit by bit, he watches the bad old habits and behavior come back. Joey's emphysemic Grandma, alternating drags on a cigarette with whiffs of oxygen as she trundles about the neighborhood in a shopping cart, and his Chihuahua Pablo, who survives both being locked in a glove compartment and having his ear pierced by a dart, provide the closest thing to comic relief here. The situation takes a dangerous turn when Joey eggs Carter into a wild rage; fortunately, his mother is just a phone call away, waiting in the wings to bail him out. Carter is truly frightening, a vision ofwhatJoey could grow up to be, did he not possess the inner honesty to acknowledge his limitations (eventually), and caring adults to help him. A tragic tale in many ways, but a triumph too. (Fiction. 11-13)

Starred Review Booklist

A truly memorable read.

Read More

Product Details

Square Fish
Publication date:
Joey Pigza Series, #2
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt



We were on our way to Dad’s house and Mom was driving with both hands clamped tightly around the wheel as if she had me by the neck. I had been snapping my seat belt on and off and driving her nuts by asking a hundred what if’s about Dad. She’d been hearing them for two weeks already and wasn’t answering. But that didn’t stop me. What if he’s not nice? What if he hates me? What if he’s as crazy as you always said he was? What if he drinks and gets nasty? What if I don’t like him? What if Grandma tries to put me in the refrigerator again? What if they make Pablo sleep outside? What if they don’t eat pizza? What if I want to come home quick, can I hire a helicopter?

“Yes,” she said to my last question, not really listening. She was taking the long roller-coaster way to Pittsburgh, which was up and down about a million mountain backroads, because she was afraid of driving too fast on the turnpike. As she said before we loaded up the borrowed car, “My license is slightly expired and I don’t have insurance, so just bear with me.”

“How can something be slightly expired?” I asked. “Is that the same as day-old bread? What if we get stopped by the police? What if we are arrested? What if the jails for boys and dogs look like giant birdcages?” She didn’t answer me then, and she wasn’t answering my questions now, even though I kept asking. All she did was tighten her grip and lean forward so much her chin was touching the top of the steering wheel. After a while her silence beat my talking like paper covers rock, so I kept my mouth shut even though the list of questions kept sprouting in my brain.

But then Pablo, my Chihuahua, started yapping nonstop. Maybe it was his neck she was thinking of squeezing because he was driving her nuts too. The roads were beat up and I asked her not to hit the holes because Pablo has a weak stomach and gets carsick easily, but she didn’t even try to steer around the bumps and holes. Her elbows were shaking and her jaw was so tight her front teeth were denting her lower lip. I knew she was stressed-out with the thought of seeing Dad, but right now I was more concerned about Pablo.

“Go around the holes!” I kept shouting as I rubbed Pablo’s swollen belly with the very tippity tips of my fingertips. He was lying on his back with his four feet up in the air like he was already dead, except his eyes were twitching.

“When you’re driving you can’t exactly zigzag down the road!” she hollered back. “We could lose control and flip over.”

“Well, Pablo’s stomach is about to flip,” I said, warning her.

“Then hold your hand over his snout,” she suggested, and squeezed the steering wheel a little tighter as the car stumbled along.

“Then he’ll get carsick through his ears,” I replied. “Or worse, it will back up and shoot out his you-know-where.”

She glanced over at me and glared. “You better keep his you-know-where aimed out the window,” she ordered. “I don’t want any nasty accidents.”

Just then we hit a deep hole and I lifted up off my seat. I saw another one coming and I took my hand from Pablo’s fizzing snout and reached for the steering wheel and Mom slapped my hand away just as the tire hit the hole hard and I bounced sideways and cracked my head on the half-open window and Pablo flipped over onto his hind legs like he was doing a wheelie then opened his mouth and did what I said he’d do all over the front of the radio.

“Oh, sugar!” Mom spit out. “Sugar, sugar, sugar!”

I knew that word meant trouble. The last time she said “sugar” like that was when she got the letter from Dad’s lawyer in the mail and I knew it wasn’t because she had something sweet in her mouth.

“Open the glove box,” Mom said. “There might be some napkins in there.”

I pressed the lock and the little door dropped down and smacked Pablo on his bandaged ear, which must have hurt. There was a box of tissues inside so I pulled that out and because I didn’t know what to do with Pablo I tucked him into the glove box and snapped the door shut. He started yapping again and I pressed my lips to the thin seam around the door and whispered, “Go to sleep. I’ll wake you when we get there.” He whimpered for a moment, then settled down. I tugged out a wad of tissues and began to clean the mess out from between all the little knobs and buttons on the radio, which was hard to do because the car was jerking around in all directions, so I quit.

I let Mom settle down for a mile or two while I chewed on my fingernails before she caught me and pulled my hand from my mouth and held it tight.

“Do you want me to drive?” I asked.

“I guess you may have noticed I’m a nervous wreck?” she started. “Well, I just can’t get my mind off your dad.”

That’s one thing I liked about him already. Her mind was on him, him, him. Usually it was on me, me, me, and I couldn’t do or say anything that she didn’t notice, but now I was hiding inside his shadow like a drop inside an ocean, and he got to take the blame for her bad nerves.

“You know I have mixed feelings about letting you do this,” she said. She was starting to get weepy so it was my turn to settle her down.

“What if he’s nice?” I guessed.

“He better be nice,” she replied.

“I mean really nice?” I said. “Like when you first met him.”

“He wasn’t even nice then. He was just okay.”

“Well, did you kiss him on the lips?”

“What do you think?” she said.

Just the thought of her kissing Dad made me silly and I began to sing, “Mom and Dad sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g.”

“Stop that!” she snapped. “You’re buggin’ me again.”

I took a breather then started up again. “Have I done something wrong?” I asked.

“No,” she replied. “I just have a case of bad nerves.”

“Then, why are you sending me to Dad if you don’t think he’s any good?”

“I’m not sending you because I like him,” she replied. “I’m sending you because you might like him and because I think—not with my heart—that it is a good thing for you to have a relationship with your father. And now that he claims to have stopped drinking and has a job and has gone to court to get some visitation, I’m sending you to him because I think it’s the right thing to do. But don’t ask me how I feel about all this.”

“How do you feeeeel?” I asked, and leaned forward and pressed my smiley face into her shoulder.

“Don’t go there,” she said. “I really don’t want to feel anything about all this.”

“Mom and Dad, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g!” I sang again with my head bouncing as if my neck was a big spring.

“Now, Joey,” Mom said, lifting one hand off the steering wheel and pushing me back to my side. “Get serious. Don’t cling to the notion that me and him are going to get back together. No way is that going to happen, so just let it go and focus on your relationship with your father. You have six weeks with him. Figure out what you want from this guy before you get there. Give it some thought because he can be, you know, wired like you, only he’s bigger.”

Even as she talked I didn’t listen because I liked what I was thinking more than what she was telling me so I just hummed, “Mom and Dad, sitting in a tree …”

After that she re-gripped the steering wheel and seemed to aim for the holes. Some quiet time passed and since she didn’t pay any attention to me I said, “Are you sending me because of my trouble with Pablo?”

“That’s only part of it,” she said. “But that last little business was a wake-up call for me—and for Pablo. I mean, I can’t keep you locked up in the house all summer.”

The little business she referred to made me hang my head, because it was all my fault, and like most everything wrong I did, she felt responsible so I just slumped into the corner of my seat. I put my tiny tape-player speakers in my ears and turned on the music. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass were playing “Lollipops and Roses” and while I nodded along I added up the good and bad things about my behavior that day, which is what my special-ed teacher told me to do when I felt sad.

Before I had gone to special ed and got my new meds it would have been impossible for me to sit still and make a list of good and bad things. I didn’t have time for lists. I didn’t have time for anything that lasted longer than the snap of my fingers. But after I got my good meds, which were in a patch I stuck on my body every day, I started to settle down and think. And not just think about all the bad things that had already happened. I started thinking about the good things I wanted to happen. And the best part about thinking good things was that now I could make them come true instead of having everything I wanted blow up in my face.

So, as I sat in the car and took a deep breath, I asked myself what I wanted from Dad. Even though I thought for a long time, my list was short. There was really only one thing I wanted. So after a while I sat up and told Mom.

“I just want him to love me as much as I already love him,” I said.

She listened, then pursed her lips before saying, “Honey, I’m sure he does.” Her voice sounded like she had a long list of other things to say, but didn’t.

Copyright © 2002 by Jack Gantos

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >