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The Trouble in Me

The Trouble in Me

Jack Gantos

Square Fish


This fiery autobiographical novel captures a pivotal week or two in the life of fourteen-year-old Jack Gantos, when he began to slide off track as a kid who in just a few years would find himself locked up in a federal penitentiary for the crimes portrayed in the memoir Hole in My Life. Set in Fort Lauderdale, The Trouble in Me opens with an explosive encounter in which Jack first meets his awesomely rebellious older neighbor, Gary Pagoda, just back from juvie for car theft. Instantly mesmerized, Jack decides he will do whatever it takes to be like Gary. As a follower, Jack is eager to leave his old self behind and desperate for whatever crazy, hilarious, frightening thing might happen next. But he may not be as ready as he thinks when the trouble in him comes blazing to life.

The Trouble in Me by Jack Gantos is a brutally honest memoir that is dark, funny, and most of all, true-to-life.


I was still in my white Junior Sea Cadet uniform and was marching stiff-legged like a windup toy across the golden carpet of scorched lawn behind our new rental house. Each splinter of dead grass had once been a soft green...

Praise for The Trouble in Me

The Trouble In Me:
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2015

“Eloquent, unflinching and darkly funny, The Trouble in Me chronicles a boy's initiation into manhood—one warped version of it, anyway.” —Chicago Tribune

“The book has an unsettling power ... A gutsy ... cautionary romp.” —The New York Times Book Review

“[An] incendiary fictionalized memoir ... Abundant style and substance makes this an irresistible cautionary tale ... Gantos has won a Newbery Medal, Printz Honor, Sibert Honor, and countless hearts. Readers will want to know how he became one of a kind.” —Booklist, starred review

“Gantos’s characteristic humor and keen observation of the fragile teen psyche combine with heartbreaking authenticity in this unflinching look at how a good kid can easily go down a wrong path ... Hand this to the so-called “bad” kids, the lost kids, and the ones struggling to find their way.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Full of 'don't try this at home' moments ... Jack's interior monologue also has a heartbreaking edge.” —Publishers Weekly

“Readers will laugh ... at Jack's reckless antics and lack of impulse control, but they will probably also sympathize with his deep itch to make a change.” —Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads

Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos has been hailed as "elementary school's answer to Hunter S. Thompson" (BCCB). He is the author of many books, including the Jack Henry and Joey Pigza series; the Rotten Ralph books; the Printz Honor and Sibert Honor memoir Hole in My Life; and the Norvelt novels—Dead End in Norvelt, recipient of the Newbery Medal, and From Norvelt to Nowhere. He lives in Boston.

image of Jack Gantoso

Jack Gantos

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