In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack Gantos spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses.
From the Publisher: "They say I'm wired bad, or wired sad, but there's no doubt about it-I'm wired." Joey Pigza's got heart, he's got a mom who loves him, and he's got "dud meds," which is what he calls the Ritalin pills that are supposed to even out his wild mood swings. Sometimes Joey makes bad choices. He learns the hard way that he shouldn't stick his finger in the pencil sharpener, or swallow his house key, or run with scissors. Joey ends...
After an explosion, a new crime by an old murderer, and the sad passing of the founder of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack accompanies his slightly mental elderly mentor, Miss Volker, on a cross-country run as she pursues the oddest of outlaws.
Joey tries to keep his life from degenerating into total chaos when his mother sends him to be home-schooled with a hostile blind girl, his divorced parents cannot stop fighting, and his grandmother is dying of emphysema.
Joey, who is still taking medication to keep him from getting too wired, goes to spend the summer with the hard-drinking father he has never known and tries to help the baseball team he coaches win the championship.
Joey's father returns, calling himself Charles Heinz and apologizing for his past bad behavior, and he swears that once Joey and his mother change their names and help him fix up the old diner he has bought, their lives will change for the better.
"Bursting with practical tips and tricks, such as creating actual story-finding maps of your neighborhood, this book will help you build confidence and establish good writing habits as you learn to use a journal to snoop out plots full of action and emotion about yourself, your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your pets. As Jack shows you hot to shape your rough ideas, organize plots, and polish drafts to shiny perfection, he also shares...
Jack's diary helps him deal with his problems which include dog-eating alligators, a terror for an older sister, a younger brother who keeps breaking parts of himself, and next-door neighbors who are really weird.