The Pigman by Paul Zindel | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Pigman by Paul Zindel | Book ReviewThe Pigman by Paul Zindel
Series: The Pigman #1
Also by this author: My Darling, My Hamburger
Published by HarperCollins on 2014-01-07
Genres: Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Join the millions of readers who have discovered The Pigman, the beloved, groundbreaking young adult classic from Paul Zindel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. This new paperback edition is packed with bonus material, including a Q&A with Paul Zindel, trivia, an extended author biography, and a teaser to The Pigman's Legacy.In The Pigman, what begins as a teenage prank soon becomes a timeless examination of grief, acceptance, and the transformative power of friendship. High-school sophomores John and Lorraine had no idea what they were starting when they made a prank phone call to a stranger named Angelo Pignati. Virtually overnight, they befriended the old man. But now Mr. Pignati is dead. And for John and Lorraine, the only way to find peace is to write down their friend's story—the true story of the Pigman.Supports the Common Core State Standards

I love it when publishers repackage old books with shiny new covers and promote classics of the young adult genre. When The Pigman by Paul Zindel came in my mail, I thought that it was a new release. Then, of course, I went to goodreads and discovered that I am woefully ignorant. Friends, I made sure to read this book during a readathon because it’s super short, it’s an older release, and because the new cover keeps drawing my eye. I have to say, YA has come a long way since The Pigman yet, Zindel’s classic still has themes that feel relevant today. What a moving, depressing book about youth and death and kindness and cruelty all mixed up in one slim little novel.

First published in 1968, whoa a long time ago, The Pigman alternates point of view between John and Lorraine, two teenagers who are typing the story of the Pigman out on a TYPEWRITER you guys, a TYPEWRITER, in the library. For fun, John and Lorraine and a few of their friends flip through the phone book and prank call people. The goal is to keep the person on the other end of the phone for a long time. One day, they land on an Angelo Pignati. The two end up befriending Mr. Pignati by lying to him and pretending to be from some charity. So, like, they go over to his house because I guess stranger danger wasn’t a thing in 1968 and end up becoming BFFs with Mr. Pignati and do all sorts of fun things like go to the zoo and make him spend at this fancy store using his credit card. Unfortunately, Mr. Pignati dies, that’s not a spoiler, it’s in the official summary, and so, Lorraine and John decide to tell his story as a way to make it up to him.

John and Lorraine, main characters of Zindel’s The Pigman, are kind of annoying. Or, not really annoying, but very, strikingly human. They make some pretty big mistakes and do some pretty, awful, horrible things. But at the same time, it’s not like I can sit here and judge and say I’ve never done anything wrong. Instead of being sanitized, perfect teenagers, these two have rough family lives and yet manage to keep on plodding on despite their woes at home. Like, Lorraine, for instance. Her mom is an overworked nurse whose husband left her. She gets physically abusive with Lorraine. It’s interesting how their relationship is and how it’s dealt with. Then there’s John whose family seems alright on the outside, but then you find that his mom is obsessed with appearances and that John will never be good enough for his dad. With this kind of dysfunction, it’s no wonder that the two characters end up befriending a lonely old man who talks to baboons at the zoo.

Honestly, I think that The Pigman is both dated AND timeless at the same time. Figure that one out. Like, on the one hand it is dated because the slang it uses really marks it as being contemporary during the time it was written. It uses words that were okay during that time, but horrify me now, like I don’t use the R word at all, but I get why The Pigman does and that’s because during the era it was written, that’s how teens talked. This book is authentic for it’s time. I think that it’s timeless in that the themes of dysfunction and friendship and finding your place in the world are universal. This book is about loneliness and I just think everyone has experienced that. It’s about growing pains. I just think that some things make Zindel’s book really dated, but for the most part, the themes trump all and make me think that yeah, kids today could totally relate to The Pigman.

The following two tabs change content below.
April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I had to read The Pigman for my YA Lit class when I was in grad school. I can’t remember too much about my feelings about it. I know I didn’t hate it, but I don’t think I was in love either. Haha, can you imagine Typewriters! I love it.

    And I do understand what you mean about The Pigman being timeless, but also dated too. I know I’ve read others books like that too – but I can’t think of any right now.

  2. I had pretty much forgotten about this one. I’ve never read the sequel, have you? Thanks for the reminder–I may have to pick this one up again.

  3. We read The Pigman in 6th grade Honors English — the kids really respond to it and to John and Lorraine. The kids and the relationships within the story are definitely dysfunctional and, at the same time, so real. This is a book that’s stuck with me.

  4. I picked this one up ages ago, but I just haven’t been inspired to read it yet.