I’m Not Joey Pigza
Author: Jack Gantos
Primary Audience/age group: 9 – 12
# Of pages: 216
Year of Release: 2007
Part of a Series? Yes, 4 of 4
Rating: 1 Not Recommeded
Review: The only redeeming quality of the book is that Joey is a very likable character. He is wise beyond his years, but the story lacks hope as well as morals. Even the humor of the book was overshadowed by the immorality and foolishness of the adults.
Positive: One of the main themes of the book is forgiveness. Joeys mom encourages him to forgive his dad not only for his dads sake but also for Joeys. He eventually does and finds this is a much better way to live.
Spiritual Elements: Personally, I believed that Joeys mom believes in God, but his father is so wrapped up in the idea that he needs to earn good karma that his beliefs take over most the spiritual elements of the story. Joeys dad wins a small lottery amount and feels this was all due to karma. His goal is to earn enough good karma in order to win the big lottery and be set for life. Joeys mom even buys his dad tarot cards, a crystal ball, and a visit with a real gypsy as Christmas presents in order to predict the future.
Violence: The story begins with Joey remembering the crazy ways of his recently deceased grandmother. Once she told him he was like a chicken with its head cut off because of Joey being on medication for attention deficit disorder. To prove her point, she chops the head off a live chicken in Joeys presence. Then, later that night, the dog finds the head and leaves it on Joeys pillow where he wakes up to the site of chicken guts.
Language: Good Lord and Oh God are exclaimed a few times. Joey tells a police officer to, Kiss my honey-dipped doughnuts. You read between the lines.
Sexual Content: Joeys dad states that he and his mom wont be living in sin anymore after they renew their wedding vows. His parents were never divorced even though Joeys mom led him to believe that. They were just separated.
Other: Joey, a 6th grader, is the voice of reason in the book. His parents, especially his dad, lead him down a road of complete chaos. First, his dad changes his own name and encourages his mom and Joey to do the same. Joey reluctantly accepts because he is led to believe that this will correct all the mistakes of the past. Secondly, his parents pull him out of school in order to work in his dads new diner. The only thing is, they dont plan on home schooling him but want the authorities to believe he is being schooled. Thirdly, his dad is a recovering alcoholic, which is a surprisingly positive note, but he is by no means looking out for Joeys best interests. At one point, he even offers Joey a drink. Poor Joey declines because he wants to be a good example for his baby brother.
Joeys mom tells him that she drank a little when she was pregnant with him and could sure use a drink now in her pregnant state.
Spoiler Warning: Joeys dad is so caught up in finding himself that he has plastic surgery to change himself completely. He doesnt reveal his new face to his family but instead leaves them the day of his second sons birth.
Rating: 1 for Joey being offered an alcoholic beverage twice by authority figures as well as Joey getting into the car with a man who had been drinking. This book is not recommended.
Recommendation: Im not sure I would recommend any of the books based on this one, but to be fair, I havent read the other books in the series. Joey was the adult in the story. He sensed when something wasnt right with his dads ideas and even tried to talk some sense into him. The book was meant to be humorous with all his dads harebrained ideas, but mostly it was just offensive.
There is always hope through God, and I think children need to be taught that. The book does teach one thing though. You cant always rely on others. I would recommend your child read something else.