Saint Iggy

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Overview

I am not so bad a person once you get to know me.
    
When Iggy Corso gets kicked out of high school, there's no one for him to tell. His mother has gone off, his father is stoned on the couch, and the phone's been disconnected, so even the social worker can't get through. Leaving his public housing behind, Iggy ventures into the world to make something of his life. It's not easy when you're sixteen, have no ...

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Overview

I am not so bad a person once you get to know me.
    
When Iggy Corso gets kicked out of high school, there's no one for him to tell. His mother has gone off, his father is stoned on the couch, and the phone's been disconnected, so even the social worker can't get through. Leaving his public housing behind, Iggy ventures into the world to make something of his life. It's not easy when you're sixteen, have no skills, and your only friend is mixed up with the dealer who got your mom hooked. But Iggy is . . . Iggy, and he has the kind of wisdom that lets him see what no one else can.
    
K. L. Going's third novel is a haunting achievement about a young man's tragic search for meaning in a world that to him makes no sense.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
* "The author...avoids heavy symbolism and message by grounding her story in realistic, grimly vivid, urban details, and she creates a memorable character in Iggy...Teens will connect with Iggy's powerful sense that although he notices everything, he is not truly seen and accepted himself."—Booklist (September 15, 2006 - starred review)
Washington Post Book World
"In a carefully crafted novel that makes metaphors out of everything from dead-end streets to a doorman's casual query...K.L. Going tracks her hero on his quest to 'do good' in both senses of the phrase... Going folds it all into her larger story of urban redemption without sentimentalizing any of it—or goodness either—and Iggy's wry humor keeps the lurking didacticism in check."—Washington Post Book World (October 1, 2006)
Booklist

* "The author...avoids heavy symbolism and message by grounding her story in realistic, grimly vivid, urban details, and she creates a memorable character in Iggy...Teens will connect with Iggy's powerful sense that although he notices everything, he is not truly seen and accepted himself." --Booklist (September 15, 2006 - starred review)

Washington Post Book World

"In a carefully crafted novel that makes metaphors out of everything from dead-end streets to a doorman''s casual query...K.L. Going tracks her hero on his quest to ''do good'' in both senses of the phrase... Going folds it all into her larger story of urban redemption without sentimentalizing any of it--or goodness either--and Iggy's wry humor keeps the lurking didacticism in check." --Washington Post Book World (October 1, 2006)

Publishers Weekly
Going's haunting novel about an affable but troubled teenager looking for redemption has a powerful theme and a gritty New York City setting sure to grab the attention of listeners. Unfortunately, Hoye's inconsistent and inauthentic-sounding New York accent, and his odd pacing for some characters' exchanges, detract from this recording. Sixteen-year-old Iggy Corso-born to drug-addicted parents-has had a tough road, including being left back two years in high school and being essentially abandoned by his mother while his stoned father sleeps the days away. Short on both attention span and patience, he is suspended from school just before Christmas for what a teacher deems threatening behavior. With no support system to speak of, Iggy turns to a former tutor-the pot-smoking, philosophy-spouting law school dropout Mo-for help. In search of funds for his own growing drug habit, Mo brings Iggy with him to his wealthy parents' apartment-a place Mo detests, but where Iggy can bask in plenty and enjoy some sincere parental concern. Hoye harnesses an ominous sliminess for the voice of a drug dealer, but sounds less believable in the other roles. Despite these shortcomings, listeners will be hard-pressed not to be moved, or shocked, by this recording's end. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Anita Barnes Lowen
Sixteen-year-old Iggy Corso is hardly anyone's idea of a hero. He is kicked out of high school (terminated this time, Principal Olmos says, because of his long disciplinary history). Iggy's had a lot to overcome in his short sixteen years: He lives in the projects in New York City. His dad is usually drunk or stoned; his mom has disappeared and is probably holed up who-knows-where in a drug-induced stupor. Mo, his one-time mentor and now his only friend, has gotten mixed up with Freddie, the local drug dealer. Iggy may be a troubled and in-trouble kid—a kid who has overwhelming odds against him—but he has a strength, a gentleness, and an odd innocence that might see him through. And now he has a plan—a plan that might change everyone's mind about him and could change his life forever. A hard-to-put-down book about a boy who's hoping to make something of his life. Recommended.
VOYA - Ed Goldberg
Iggy has problems. He lives in the projects. His parents are addicts. His mother disappeared. Repeating ninth grade for the third time, he faces suspension for sassing a teacher. His principal thinks that Iggy is a good kid, with a contribution to make. All he needs is a plan. Iggy's only friend, Mo, has his own problems. Several years older, he was suspended from pre-law school for drug possession. He has renounced his parent's wealth, lives in squalor, and is also an addict. On this particular day, Iggy finds Mo at home, sick and in need of money. Mo has a plan to hit his mother up for some cash. She welcomes them, inviting them to stay a few days. Despite Mo's rejections of her values, she loves him. The story follows both Mo's and Iggy's plans. Iggy's tale juxtaposes a mentally slow kid from the projects, wanting to do right but not quite knowing how, against a bright but misguided kid who could have it all but gets diverted. Going's first-person narrative writing reflects Iggy's fuzzy mind. She skillfully contrasts Iggy's and Mo's mother's surroundings, squalor versus wealth. Iggy daydreams about conversations regarding his imagined achievements and people's altered opinions of him, which makes for fun reading. Readers feel sorry for the characters, all of whom live in partially imaginary worlds, and they will want to find out how Iggy's and Mo's plans play out. The novel might not have universal appeal and salesmanship might be required, but once sold, readers will stick with it.
VOYA - Abbe Goldberg
This is Going's best book yet. The main character, Iggy, lives a life surrounded by drugs and poverty, a life that is difficult to break away from in order to succeed. Iggy is a character whom the reader wants to be triumphant in the end. Teenagers will read this book because they will want to follow Iggy's story to see if a boy can make something of his life by himself.
KLIATT - Bette Ammon
To quote the review of the audiobook in KLIATT, May 2007: When your mom is a junkie who disappears for weeks at a time and your stoned dad barely knows if you're there or not, who is left to care when you're kicked out of high school? That's Iggy Corso's dilemma, and he decides he must come up with a "How-to-Change-Everyone's-Mind-About-Me" plan. Iggy's best friend and only supporter is Mo, a law school dropout who rejects his Upper East Side upbringing until he needs to ask his mother for drug money. Iggy ends up becoming Mo's protector and savior. There are drugs, seedy characters, and dicey situations—seems pretty relevant to many urban teens. (An ALA Best Book for YAs.) Reviewer: Bette Ammon
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Iggy Corso, 16, doesn't do drugs, even though he was born addicted to crack. He lives in a city housing project, in an apartment filled with furniture that his stoned and drunken father collects from the street. Iggy's mother is an addict who has been AWOL for a month. The cool thing about the teen is that, despite his parents and his environment, he doesn't feel sorry for himself. A freshman who has failed two grades and been suspended eight times, he takes things for what they are, until he gets suspended again, pending a hearing. His principal says to him, "You've had a lot to overcome...but....We can all...do something that contributes...." After listening to this, Iggy realizes that his only chance for the future is to get back into school. The principal's statement haunts him throughout the book. He enlists help from his so-called mentor/friend, Mo (who was suspended from pre-law school after being caught smoking pot), but his association with this disaffected youth from a wealthy family creates a whole new set of problems. Thick pencil lines run down the inner margins of the pages; Iggy's life is like these lines, on the edge, reaching out, searching for somewhere to go. The story is told in widely spaced paragraphs, making it a good choice for reluctant readers. Like Troy Billings in Going's Fat Kid Rules the World (Putnam, 2003), Iggy Corso is unforgettable.-Shannon Seglin, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This charmer, set just before Christmas, will haunt readers long after experiencing the final pages. Iggy, a 16-year-old freshman, is about to get kicked out of high school permanently, pending a hearing. Iggy recognizes that he needs a legal guardian and legal representation to accompany him, but he will have neither. His parents are druggies and his meth-addicted mother has been missing for weeks. Iggy decides that he needs a plan to show the world what he's really made of. He finds Mo, his supposed mentor, a college dropout who's renounced all material goods. Short on funds, Mo decides to buy drugs on credit-from the same dealer who supplies Iggy's parents-and then takes Iggy to his wealthy mother's apartment to ask for money. Here, Iggy's plan gels and all readers are left to do is hang on for the incredible ride. Wild plot twists combined with Iggy's endearing narration will keep turning pages and readers cheering this strangely heroic anti-hero. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
"Hang on for the incredible ride. Wild plot twists combined with Iggy's endearing narration will keep turning pages and readers cheering this strangely heroic anti-hero."—Kirkus Reviews

[star] "Unforgettable."—School Library Journal (starred)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152057954
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/1/2006
  • Pages: 272
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 1190L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

K. L. GOING is the author of Fat Kid Rules the World, a Printz Honor Book, and The Liberation of Gabriel King. She lives and writes full-time in Glen Spey, New York.

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Read an Excerpt

1.

So I got kicked out

So I got kicked out of school today, which is not so great but

also not entirely unexpected, and I went back to Public Housing where I live to tell my parents all about it but my mom went visiting someone or other and probably isn’t coming back and my dad is stoned off his ass on the couch like he always is, so somehow I’m not getting the vibe that he’d really, you know, care, so I think, Here’s what I’m going to do: First I’ve got to make a plan. And this is part of the plan—making a plan—so really I’m doing good already.

If my dad was awake part of the plan would be telling him about the trouble at school so he would know it was not entirely my fault. This is how it happened:

Me (coming in late to Spanish class because I followed a hot new girl): Can I sit here?

Mrs. Brando
(confused): I think you have the wrong classroom.

Me (correctly): No, I’m in this class.

Mrs. Brando
(really patronizing): Son, it is December and I have not seen you in this class even once before, so I don’t know what classroom you are looking for. Are you new here, too?

Me (being real patient): Nooo, I am in this class and if you’d just check your list from the beginning of the year you’d see that. (under my breath really freaking quietly) Bitch.

Mrs. Brando (flipping out): Are you threatening me? Do you have a weapon? Are you on drugs? Someone get the principal. Call security. Help! Help! Help!

Then all the other teachers come in because they think I’m going to pull a Columbine, and everyone’s asking what happened only no one’s asking me and in Mrs. Brando’s version of it, I moved like I was going to hit her or maybe pull something out of my jacket, and even though hitting someone and pulling something out of your jacket require two totally different hand motions, the one being an up and out motion and the other being a down and in motion, no one comes to my defense and instead everyone in the classroom nods in agreement with Mrs. Brando’s story and you would think they didn’t know me all these years, the traitors.

Then the security guy pushes my face into the concrete wall, and after that he drags me to the principal’s office and Principal Olmos talks to me for a long time.

"Remember how you wanted to drop Spanish for metal shop?" he asks, tapping his desk.

I don’t remember.

"Do you remember?"

I look at the ceiling and the floor and the walls.

"Did you think about your actions before you went into that classroom?"

I thought about the hot new girl.

Principal Olmos shakes his head. "Don’t be silent now," he tells me. "The only time you cease talking is when you should be making an attempt to better yourself—participating in class, for example, or explaining your actions, which frankly, are largely incomprehensible."

I wonder why I am incomprehensible because everything I do makes perfect sense to me.

"Umm," I start, "’cause, see, I was just going in there to learn some Spanish because I changed my mind about things and I wasn’t going to hit anyone—Mrs. Brando is just an old . . . uhh, teacher, and . . ."

Principal Olmos holds up one hand.

"Actually," he says, taking a deep breath, "it’s too late." He shakes his head again.

"It’s time to start thinking about your future outside of this high school. Mrs. Brando wants to file serious charges—charges that should warrant police involvement . . ." He looks me right in the eye like I am going D-O-W-N, then he breaks the look.

"But we’re not going to go that route," he says. "I’ll speak to Mrs. Brando about not involving the police, but that’s the best I can do. I’m afraid I’ll be recommending to the school superintendent that your time at Carver High be terminated."

Now my eyes get big, because what does he mean—terminated?

"There will be a hearing within the next five days to officially determine your status. If your parents wish to hire an attorney, of course they are welcome to do so, but given your past suspensions, your disciplinary history, the number of times you’ve had detention this year alone, and of course the incident with the spray painting, I think the outcome is virtually certain."

I think, Oh, so terminated means "over." And it is not like I didn’t see this coming, but this time I can tell it is real so my mind wanders and I start thinking how the girl wasn’t even that hot and my parents will never show up to a hearing and what will I amount to anyway?

". . . tried to contact your parents," Principal Olmos is saying, "but as usual we can’t reach them . . ."

I could beg.

". . . can’t tolerate the threat of violence in schools these days . . ."

I could offer him money, only I don’t have any.

". . . clearly not suited for this environment. Perhaps a technical school . . ."

Maybe I will say I was on drugs so they will decide to help me, only this may not work because I already have a social worker and everyone thinks I am on drugs even though I’m not, and it has not helped me once yet.

"Are you listening?"

I look up and Principal Olmos is looking like he feels sorry about everything, so I don’t say any of the things I thought about saying and I don’t even beg for mercy. I just sit there thinking how I screwed up again and that’s when I want to fucking cry, or maybe hit someone, because even though I am not so great a student, I am not harmful and if they gave me another chance I would do okay, I swear.

Then Principal Olmos looks at me for a long time, and finally he sighs and says, "Honestly, I believe you’re a good kid."

He leans across his desk.

"Lots of people around here don’t think that, but I do," he says. "You’ve had a lot to overcome in your life, but that’s no excuse for poor discipline. We can all make something of ourselves, no matter what our situation. We can do something that contributes to the world, live a life that has meaning. Do you believe that?"

I’ve never thought about meaning—not even once—but I nod because, okay, whatever.

Principal Olmos stands up and closes my folder. "You’ll have to stay here until the end of the school day while we continue trying to contact your parents. If we can’t reach them I’ll have the social worker come by your house to deliver an official letter stating you have out-of-school suspension pending a hearing." He pauses. "I’m . . . sorry."

He reaches out to shake my hand like we are both adults and I am not a kid or a student anymore, and that’s when it hits me that I am on my own, which is scary because even though I’m sixteen I am only a freshman and that is too soon to get kicked out. Plus, I have no skills, and if you do not graduate high school and you have no skills then you are shit out of luck.

So I decide that Principal Olmos is wrong about the hearing and even though he thinks it is a done deal I will make a plan. And the kind of plan I will make is a How-to-Change-Everyone’s-Mind-About-Me plan since Principal Olmos is the only one who thinks I am a decent guy, but really, I am not so bad a person once you get to know me.
 
 
Copyright © 2006 by K. L. Going

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc.,
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Slow-Paced

    This book was very slow and boring. It wasn't enteraining, and I didn't particularly like the characters or the story. I could barely finish it. The ending was also very sad.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 14, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius" for TeensReadToo.com

    Iggy Corso isn't a bad kid. He's not that bright, and he often does and says things long before thinking through the consequences of his actions, but he isn't inherently bad. Iggy is the product of his upbringing, which includes an alcoholic father, a junkie mother, and life in the projects. His school file is crammed with notations regarding his run-ins with security, teachers, and the principal. But this time, Iggy's been expelled from high school pending a hearing with the Superintendent, and there's no one around for him to tell--no one around, in fact, to even care. <BR/><BR/>Iggy, though, has a plan. He'll contribute to the world, will somehow make a difference in these few short days before Christmas and his school hearing, and convince everyone--from his parents to Principal Olmos--that they were wrong about him. The first part of Iggy's plan involves getting out of the Projects, so he goes to the only other place he knows, which is the dump where his friend Mo lives. Mo was kicked out of college, where he was studying pre-law, for smoking pot, and now he lives in an apartment with a broken window and ratty furniture, alternately stoned and renouncing all material hings. But Iggy needs Mo's help to get him back into school, so he follows him along when Mo decides to get a line of credit on some pot. <BR/><BR/>Iggy doesn't do drugs. Everything thinks he does, because of his home life, but being born addicted to crack did more to Iggy than just slow down his brain. He's seen firsthand how it affects his family, especially his mother, who has been gone for months now "visiting" someone. He's seen Freddie, his father's dealer, break his father's fingers when his dad didn't have the money to pay for his drugs. So although Iggy doesn't do drugs, he goes along with Mo when he needs some pot--and realizes that his plan isn't going very well when Mo goes straight to Freddie. When Mo gets his pot, along with some other "free samples" on a line of credit, Iggy realizes that getting back into school might be the least of his problems. <BR/><BR/>But now it's Mo's turn for a plan--he needs a couple grand to pay off Freddie, so he'll go to his mother, who has more money than she knows what to do with. But that doesn't turn out exactly right, either, and soon Iggy is involved in yet another scheme involving drugs, a dealer, and a friend. For Iggy, who isn't a bad kid but also isn't Mother Teresa, there's a fine line between contributing to the world and making something of yourself. <BR/><BR/>SAINT IGGY is a great, heartbreaking read. From the beginning, you can't help but wish a better life for Iggy, all the while knowing, somehow, that things aren't going to end up the way you want them to. Iggy is a boy who has somehow fallen through the cracks, and yet he manages to bring a sense of hope to every situation he finds himself in. Ms. Going has done a wonderful job of bringing Iggy Corso to life, and you'll be forever grateful for the chance of getting to know him.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2006

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    Iggy Corso isn't a bad kid. He's not that bright, and he often does and says things long before thinking through the consequences of his actions, but he isn't inherently bad. Iggy is the product of his upbringing, which includes an alcoholic father, a junkie mother, and life in the Projects. His school file is crammed with notations regarding his run-ins with security, teachers, and the principal. But this time, Iggy's been expelled from high school pending a hearing with the Superintendent, and there's no one around for him to tell--no one around, in fact, to even care. Iggy, though, has a plan. He'll contribute to the world, will somehow make a difference in these few short days before Christmas and his school hearing, and convince everyone--from his parents to Principal Olmos--that they were wrong about him. The first part of Iggy's plan involves getting out of the Projects, so he goes to the only other place he knows, which is the dump where his friend Mo lives. Mo was kicked out of college, where he was studying pre-law, for smoking pot, and now he lives in an apartment with a broken window and ratty furniture, alternately stoned and renouncing all material things. But Iggy needs Mo's help to get him back into school, so he follows him along when Mo decides to get a line of credit on some pot. Iggy doesn't do drugs. Everything thinks he does, because of his home life, but being born addicted to crack did more to Iggy than just slow down his brain. He's seen firsthand how it affects his family, especially his mother, who has been gone for months now 'visiting' someone. He's seen Freddie, his father's dealer, break his father's fingers when his dad didn't have the money to pay for his drugs. So although Iggy doesn't do drugs, he goes along with Mo when he needs some pot--and realizes that his plan isn't going very well when Mo goes straight to Freddie. When Mo gets his pot, along with some other 'free samples' on a line of credit, Iggy realizes that getting back into school might be the least of his problems. But now it's Mo's turn for a plan--he needs a couple grand to pay off Freddie, so he'll go to his mother, who has more money than she knows what to do with. But that doesn't turn out exactly right, either, and soon Iggy is involved in yet another scheme involving drugs, a dealer, and a friend. For Iggy, who isn't a bad kid but also isn't Mother Teresa, there's a fine line between contributing to the world and making something of yourself. SAINT IGGY is a great, heartbreaking read. From the beginning, you can't help but wish a better life for Iggy, all the while knowing, somehow, that things aren't going to end up the way you want them to. Iggy is a boy who has somehow fallen through the cracks, and yet he manages to bring a sense of hope to every situation he finds himself in. Ms. Going has done a wonderful job of bringing Iggy Corso to life, and you'll be forever grateful for the chance of getting to know him.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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