Gantos, Jack. The Trouble in Me. Farrar, 2015. $17.99. 224p. 9780374379957. Ages 12-15. P9Q8
Gantos, known for his Rotten Ralph and Joey Pigza series, is at his best when he uses personal experiences for his novels, and this funny, scary book about 14-year-old Jack’s relationship with his new neighbor, a thug, is no different. In this prequel to the award-winning memoir Hole in My Life, Jack wants to be Gary Pagoda’s follower which means such adventures as throwing fireworks on top of a police car and being catapulted over a house into a tree. Part adventurer and part philosopher, the protagonist has to decide whether he wants to maintain his pyromania with the nickname of “Flameout” or move forward in his life. Not only appealing to rebellious teens, Gantos’ books have won a Newbery, Scott Odell Award, Printz Honor, and Sibert Honor.
April 2016 review by Nel Ward.