Cover image for Oy, Joy!
Oy, Joy!
Frank, Lucy.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : DK Pub., 1999.
Physical Description:
277 pages ; 22 cm
Although her ailing uncle creates problems for her whole family when he moves in with them, Joy survives his bungling attempts at matchmaking even as she plays the game herself.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 3.8 8.0 46313.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"Don't get your shorts in a knot!" protests Uncle Max (imagine George Burns minus the cigar). "I just told him you were smart and witty and a pleasure to behold." Joy is a boyfriend-less high-school freshman and her great-uncle an unwilling, unwanted addition to the household while he recovers from a stroke. Her best friend, Maple, has just met weird Wade and is deliriously happy, but Joy is alone (or as alone as it gets, bunked in with her younger brother, his drum set, and his mice, and forced to baby-sit Uncle Max and his equally high-maintenance dog, Sarge). Alone, that is, until Uncle Max, who's used to making things happen, decides to take a hand -- a heavy hand -- in finding Joy a match. And then screening any likely contenders. A tense situation produces a hilarious and ultimately touching comedy of ill tempers and good intentions. More matches than one are eventually made, and there's a happy ending for all, extending beyond the apartment to school, to the streets of New York, all theway to Florida -- "Fine, " opines Uncle Max, "if you like spongy bagels...."

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-9. While recovering from a stroke, Joy's great-uncle Max has moved into Joy's family's cramped New York apartment, bringing along his terrier, Sarge, who needs a tranquilizer and a bath--in that order. Joy, who is just starting ninth grade, is in serious need of some space (her ailing uncle has taken over her room) and a boyfriend (maybe). A take-charge kind of guy, Uncle Max quickly engineers a meeting between his dubious niece and a namesake: "Trust me, darling. A boy named Max, what could be bad?" What, indeed! The teens' first encounter is a comic set piece, and, "oy," the complications that ensue. Frank, who has a real gift for characterization, has written a funny, downright joyful story about first love, family feelings, and the surprises and rewards of cross-generational friendship. --Michael Cart

Publisher's Weekly Review

New Yorker Joy's freshman year of high school takes a turn for the worse when her great-uncle Max moves in. "Pithy observations from a 14-year-old narrator and full-blooded characters make this a laugh-out-loud tale of teen angst," said PW in a starred review. Ages 11-14. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-Joy's freshman year of high school bears little resemblance to the one she had anticipated. On the home front, her family life is thrown into turmoil by the arrival of her great-uncle Max. Joy's parents offer a temporary home to the ailing but fiercely independent man while he recovers from a stroke. Because the family lives in a cramped New York City apartment, Joy must give up her own room and share accommodations with her annoying younger brother. To complicate matters further, her social life is transformed by a school-sponsored "Match Quiz" intended to connect students of the opposite sex who share similar interests. Uncle Max's presence both contributes to and assuages Joy's personal upheavals. In the process, they develop an affectionate and mutually supportive relationship. It is, in fact, the characters and their relationships rather than the plot that drive this witty, urban coming-of-age story. Joy's voice conveys the personality of an appealing, imperfect teenager. Although there aren't many surprises in Joy's high-spirited narrative, readers will relate to her realistic familial, peer, and romantic dilemmas.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One "Joy, you're not concentrating," said my friend Maple. We'd just gotten through the first three days of high school. Now we were sprawled on my bedroom rug filling out a Match Quiz. Or rather, Maple was. I'd spent the past half-hour decorating the form with little kangaroos. "`What do people think is my best quality? 1. Intelligence 2. Personality 3. Honesty 4. Looks 5. Enthusiasm 6. Apartment without parents.'"     "This quiz should come with a manual," I said.     "Exactly," she said. "Do I put down who I am or who they are, or who I want people to think I am? I mean, are we doing this to attract people I should meet, or the kind of people I'd really like?"     "No clue," I said, giving one kangaroo a pair of shoes.     "Well, what'd you put for number two?" she said. "`The first word most people think of when they think of me is ... 1. Hot 2. Cool 3. Funny 4. Interesting 5. Depressing 6. Boring 7. Dead.'"     "I don't know. These are all either too normal or too negative," I said. "Where're bizarre, bonkers, berserk, bats, bananas--"     "What if people don't think of me at all?" Maple said. "What if none of these choices fit? Does that make me a Match Quiz misfit? Does it mean they won't find matches for me?"     The great thing about having a best friend is how you can take turns being anxious. "Maple," I said. "You're making this into way too big a deal. You're acting like this is our only chance to meet people."     "Not people," she said. "Boys. There are sixteen hundred kids in this school, remember? We've met what, thirty of them, twenty-nine of them girls? We could be juniors before we have a social life."     "Come on," I said, "how serious can you get about questions like `Your ideal date is: 1. Dinner and a movie 2. Bungee jumping 3. Rock concert 4. I prefer not to meet in person.'"     "Yeah, well," she said, "I've heard a lot of people talking, and they say it works. Boys really call and ask you out. Or you call them. Or meet them, whatever...."     It wasn't that I didn't want to meet a boy. I thought about it every time I saw a couple who really liked each other. "Fine," I said. "Let's do it." I picked up the sheet and read: "`Which of these words most closely describes your hair? 1. Blond 2. Brown 3. Black 4. Lime green 5. Gray 6. I have no hair to speak of.'"     "I guess black," she said.     "Put lime," I said. Her hair was all black now, but last week only one side was black and the month before it was purplish pink. "It might be by the time they score this. What would you call mine?"     "Brown," she said.     "Brown's so blah," I said. "It's so generic. I wish I could put chestnut, or honey, or honey nut." She rolled her eyes. I checked number two, Brown. "`My favorite outfits come from ... 1. Great-Aunt Minnie 2. Prep Town 3. The land of dead jeans 4. The mall 5. Bloomingdale's.'" I supposed my ravel-hemmed jeans and T-shirt--the same jeans and T-shirt as ninety percent of the teenage girls in New York City, if not the universe--made me a number three, but I drew in a sixth box: "Other." Maple loved having people notice her, which is why she had on seven earrings, an orange lace top, overall shorts with fishnet stockings, and one red sneaker and one blue sneaker.     "`Do you have an imaginary friend?'" she read. "`1. No 2. His name is Roy and I resent your calling him imaginary.'"     "One! No!" I said. In fact, her name was Kestrel and she was a bird girl, though I wasn't sure if she still counted as an imaginary friend, or just a character I drew. Not even Maple had seen my Kestrel notebooks.     The door opened. "Can you help me catch Kurt Cobain?" asked my brother.     "Close the door!" cried Maple. "We don't want rodents running in here!"     "Kurt doesn't like being called a rodent," said Nathan. "But don't worry. He's under my dresser. Ludwig's still in the cage."     "Why'd you open it?" I asked. This happened at least once a week. He'd had the mice since last year's science project, when he'd played Kurt a Nine Inch Nails tape twelve hours a day and locked Ludwig in the closet with nonstop Mozart, to see if it affected their personalities. Clearly it had.     "It smelled," he said, jingling the change in his pocket. Nathan's always fiddling or twiddling with something. "I was going to clean it. Come on, Joy. It will only take a minute."     "Get Mom to help this time," I said. My mother actually thought the mice were cute. But then, she thought Nathan was cute.     "She's not home yet," he said. "She's stopping at the hospital again to see Uncle Max. Come on, please? I'll catch him. You just have to move the dresser." He picked up my Match Quiz. "`When kissing,'" he read, before I could grab it away, "`do you keep your eyes ... 1. Open 2. Closed 3. On your wallet.' What is this?"     "It's a Match Quiz," said Maple. "For freshmen to meet people. For two dollars, you get the names and numbers of the twenty people whose answers most closely match your own. They'll match us up with kids from the whole school or just our grade. It's like a fundraiser, to help pay for school dances, stuff like that."     "`How do you usually find a date?'" he read in what he clearly meant to be a TV game-show-host imitation. "`1. I ask everyone I meet 2. I continually call them for the homework, even if they're not in my grade 3. I wait for him/her to ask me 4. I'm relying on this quiz.' Uh, Joy?" He raised an eyebrow. "You've never even had a date."     This was a piece of information I did not need to hear out loud. But Maple jumped in and said, so matter-of-factly that I could have kissed her, "That's right. That's why we're doing this."     "Yeah," he said, "but the questions are so stupid."     "If I help catch Kurt," I asked him, "will you leave?" He nodded. "Promise?"     We went in and moved his dresser. Kurt, as usual, was cowering under it. Nathan grabbed him and plopped him in the cage with Ludwig. Then I went back to my room and shut the door. Maple had moved onto my bed. I sat down next to her and looked at the questions for what must have been the fifteenth time: Your lifestyle can best be described as: 1. Alternative 2. Mainstream 3. Life? What life? If you were an ice-cream flavor, would you be: 1. Chocolate 2. Vanilla 3. Chunky monkey 4. Rocky road.     "Nathan's right," I said. "These are stupid questions."     "Come on. Just do your best," Maple said.     "I am," I said, looking at my answers. "But I mean, vanilla ice cream, brown hair, dead jeans, no life? That's not me."     "You could change your image," she said.     "I could change the questions. I mean, even `What's your favorite color?' would tell you more than these do." I loved every bright color--tulip red, parrot green, dandelion yellow--even if I didn't wear them.     I'd begun drawing a little guy in a hat climbing out of a kangaroo's pouch, but I could see Maple was losing patience with me, so I went back to putting X's in the little boxes. I was still grappling with what grade-level date I preferred when Mom knocked.     "Maple's staying, okay?" I said, quickly turning over my Match Quiz.     "Not tonight, Joy." Mom looked tense and worried.     "Why? What's up?" I asked.     She didn't answer me. "I'm sorry, Maple," she said. "The family has something serious to discuss. We need to have a family meeting." "It's about Uncle Max," she said once Maple had gone and we were all seated at the table. "Joy, are you listening?"     "Sorry," I said. I began thinking up my own match questions. If you were a mountain, would you be: 1. Mount Rushmore 2. Mount Everest 3. Mount Vesuvius 4. A molehill. If you were a lower life form, would you be: 1. A coral snake 2. A toadstool 3. A butterfly 4. A chameleon 5. A Venus flytrap 6. An acorn squash.     "We're going to need everyone's cooperation," Mom said. "They're letting Uncle Max out Monday, and we don't see how he can possibly go back to the apartment. I've talked with Social Services, and I stopped over today to check on the poor dog. That nice lady next door, Mrs. Nussbaum, is still walking him. She told me this wasn't Uncle Max's first episode. He's blacked out and fallen a few times and never said anything. He can't live alone! The social worker suggested some sort of aide, but can you see him putting up with that? He never even wanted a cleaning lady."     "He'd fire her the first day," Dad said. "If she didn't jump out the window first."     "Marty! He's not that bad." She gave Dad a warning look.     "So what are you saying?" I asked.     "We don't have another choice," she said. "He's going to have to move in with us."     "For how long?" Nathan asked.     "Just till we can get him situated properly," Dad said. Mom frowned. "Ilene," he said in a way that let me know they'd been over this a lot, "there has to be some sort of comfortable senior housing--"     "What about Sarge?" I asked.     "Oh, Lord!" Dad rolled his eyes. I could see his point. Sarge wasn't the world's most attractive dog.     Mom's lips tightened. "We wouldn't even have this place if it weren't for Uncle Max."     "I know," Dad said. He looked even more stressed out than he usually did after work. "You don't have to keep reminding me. Besides, we've almost paid him back."     "We are not putting my uncle in some nursing home," she said. "It isn't right. That's not how you take care of family. You know what he did for me when Mother died, and let's not forget the years you worked for him...."     "Believe me, I have not forgotten them," Dad said.     I looked around our cluttered living room, which already served as living room and dining room, not to mention my mother's office. "Where's he going to stay?" I said. "There's no room for him."     "He's going to need a real bedroom," Mom said. "You and Nathan will have to double up." Copyright © 1999 Lucy Frank. All rights reserved.