Saving Marty by Paul Griffin
Text Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925498868
(Age: 10-12) Themes: Friendship, Family Life, Pets, Music. Saving Marty is an honest story of family life, love, friendship and sacrifice. Eleven year old Lorenzo Ventura has a difficult life, physically he's over six feet tall and 250 pounds and his life with his mother and grandfather on a failing peach orchard is a constant struggle to survive. Renzo's soldier father is deceased, all that is left are his letters to his son, his guitar and his Bronze Star. Music is an important part of Renzo's life; he enjoys playing the guitar with his best friend songwriter and singer Paloma Lee.
When Renzo returns home after school to find his mother has sold Reggie and her piglets to the butcher, he is saddened but that's just part of life. In the barn he discovers their dog Bella has had her puppies in the pigpen and hidden in the straw is a fuzzy piglet, the runt of the litter. Marty (named for his dad) becomes Renzo's special project, saving him from Mum's desire to sell him off, feeding him up and stopping the rapidly growing pig from destroying property.
For a school project on their personal heroes, Renzo delves into his father's life and death, discovering conflicting and confronting details. Paloma's songs and poignant lyrics provide a contrast to the vicissitudes of Renzo's life. As the months pass, and Paloma leaves for music camp, Marty becomes the one constant friend in Renzo's life.
Paul Griffin's Saving Marty champions the underdog, the boy who doesn't fit in, and friends, family and music bring the light and shade to this story. His characters are realistically portrayed, even Marty the pig who grows to 350 pounds is a loveable friend with his dog-like antics. This is a realistic portrayal of the effects of war and to the struggles of everyday life.