Book talk: Jack is sick of life. He's sick of moving. He's sick of being bullied by his classmates and father. He's sick of feeling weak and powerless. Then his new neighbor gets back from his second stint at juvie. Gary Pagoda is everything that Jack isn't: tough, cool, openly rebellious, and utterly fearless. Jack doesn't care where Gary leads him, as long as it means getting as far away from his old life as possible. Soon Gary has Jack lying to a parole officer, performing stupidly dangerous stunts, and feeding his inner pyromaniac. It will be a summer Jack will never forget, if he survives it.
Rave: This novel is based on events in the author's past and certainly provides a different perspective than your average YA novel. Reading about Gantos's exploits was horrifying and fascinating. It explores a crossroads in his life and the path he chose would eventually lead him to a federal prison. The events are rough, but the prose is beautiful and there are many poignant and sensitive moments in the novel, "I’d slink back to my room and curl up on the bed like a fish-hook and cry until I was rusty." That image hit me like a punch in the gut. This novel at the right time with the right teen could really change their life.
Topics and Trends: criminals, pyromania, memoir
Source: school library
The Trouble in Me by Jack Gantos