The Pigman, by Paul Zindel

Cover ImageFinished 1-1-09, rating 4, YA fiction, pub. 1968

“There was no one else to blame anymore…And there was no place to hide-no place across any river for a boatman to take us.  Our life would be what we made of it-nothing more, nothing less.”      -Chapter 15

High School sophomores John and Lorraine like to play phone pranks, but one such call leads them to Angelo Pignati’s front door.  Mr Pignati, aka Pigman because of his collection of pigs, is a lonely old man who has been forgotten and visits his best friend the baboon at the zoo everyday.  Soon the two teenagers become more comfortable at Mr. Pignati’s house than their own more judgemental homes.

Greed and mischief led them to Mr. Pignati’s home and his generosity kept them there, but John and Lorraine gain valuable life lessons through their friendship with the old man.  They are just kids and yet they are faced with the realities of aging, the fragility of life, peer pressure, magic, and the destruction of youth.

I think this book is wonderful.  I like the alternating chapters between John and Lorraine.  The language and the story are so vividly real that even though this was published in the 1960’s it is still relevant for teens today.  It is brutally honest and doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and yet it isn’t without hope.  John and Lorraine are flawed teenagers caught up in misfortune of their own making and Mr. Pigman is a sad man who gains happiness before losing it again. 

I recommend this as a young adult novel, although as a ‘not so young girl’ I thoroughly enjoyed it.