Fans of Because of Winn Dixie will adore this warm and heart-wrenching story of the friendship between a boy and a pig who thinks it’s a dog.
Eleven-year-old Lorenzo Ventura knows heroes are rare–like his father, who died in the war, or his friend Paloma Lee, who fearlessly pursues her dream of being a famous musician. Renzo would never describe himself as a hero, but his chance comes when he adopts Marty, a runt piglet.
Marty is extraordinary–he thinks he’s a dog and acts like one too–and his bond with Renzo is truly one of a kind. At first, the family farm seems like the perfect home for Marty, but as he approaches 350 pounds, it becomes harder for Renzo to convince his mom that a giant pig makes a good pet. So when Marty causes a dangerous (and expensive) accident, Renzo knows Marty’s time is up. He’d do anything and everything for his best friend, but will everything be enough to save Marty?
Paul Griffin masterfully melds the heartrending and the hopeful in this unforgettable story about the power of friendship . . . and the unsung heroes all around us
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Violence, Discussion of war, Discussion of suicide, Racism
Booklist (September 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 1))
Grades 4-7. On the heels of the acclaimed When Friendship Followed Me Home (2016), Griffin returns with another story celebrating the deep bond between man and animal. In rural western Pennsylvania, Lorenzo Ventura, who’s large for his 11 years, forges a deep connection with a pig that thinks he’s a dog. Lorenzo names the pig Marty after the deceased father he never met, but unfortunately his mother, struggling to keep their household afloat, says Marty’s got to go. As Marty grows and grows, his girth causing a number of problems large and small, Lorenzo presses for information about his father. Though slight, Griffin’s novel packs a powerful punch, particularly when Lorenzo receives some unexpected news—his father, struggling with PTSD, had in fact committed suicide. A bit unfocused at the beginning, the story gains momentum midway, culminating in an emotional and heartrending climax. Griffin captures a slice of Americana—the flyover farms of middle America—rarely depicted so sensitively in contemporary middle-grade fiction. Hand this one to fans of animal-centered stories.
Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2017)
A failing peach farm and a mountain of bills force 12-year-old Lorenzo Ventura’s mother to consider selling his best friend, Marty—a pig who thinks he is a dog. The only things Renzo has to remember his father by are his Bronze Star, some letters, and his guitar. When new and conflicting details about his father’s death emerge, the white middle schooler is anxious to know the truth. But his mother and her father, Double Pop, are distracted with saving their home. When Paloma Lee, Renzo’s mixed-race (Korean and Colombian) friend, leaves for music camp, Renzo is left alone with his questions and Marty, whose size and enthusiasm are becoming dangerous. Renzo’s search for answers leads him to some profound truths: love is complicated, and people will continually surprise and sometimes disappoint you. But whether they are working single parents, military veterans, or simply friends willing to go the distance, heroes come in many types, and Renzo’s story is a celebration of them all. Renzo is a gentle-hearted dreamer who learns that there are some things worth fighting for. And Marty is the pig who guides him toward the man he is growing to be. Smart, honest, and heart-achingly real. (Fiction. 10-14)
About the Author
Paul Griffin lives, writes, and trains dogs in New York City. His previous novel, The Orange Houses, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults Top Ten, an International Reading Association 2010 Notable Book for a Global Society, a Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Book of 2009, and an Amelia Bloomer Project Award winner.
His website is www.paulgriffinstories.net
Around the Web
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Saving Marty Publisher Page