When I was a college student, my teaching mentors had young adult book recommendations for high school students. Let’s face it, high school English classes push classics but kids often read “easier” and more accessible picks. One of the classic young adult novels that my advisor and mentor teacher recommended was Paul Zindel’s The Pigman. I picked it up at a thrift sale and then promptly never read it until now.
Sophomores John and Lorraine play a prank on an old man, and it goes awry. But Mr. Pignetti, or The Pigman, is kind and lonely. He draws them into his world of imagination and childish joy in the simple things. Of course, this kind of utopia cannot last, and the teens must find a way to face the consequences of their careless and selfish actions.
I get the moral that Zindel was trying to convey, and it’s an important message in kindness and consideration for others’ boundaries and spaces. But I found the story profoundly irritating, because I hate reading about irresponsible teens who make inexplicably stupid choices. It’s not even just self-destructive choices, it’s really bad choices that affect other people in hurtful ways. I’m not going to say anything else, because I don’t want to spoil it for those who would consider reading it. But it was not a pleasurable or instructive reading experience, and I will not personally be recommending it to other readers. I think it’s more about content than any datedness—I’ve had several students read The Outsiders and love it, despite its clearly dated content and tone. This book was just…odd.
Cross-posted to my blog.