April 27, 2010

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
Paperback Edition
(Author Website) (Author Book Page)
Five years ago Josh’s life changed. Drastically. And everyone in his school, his town—seems like the world—thinks they understand.
But they don’t—they can’t.
And now, about to graduate from high school, Josh is still trying to sort through the pieces. First there’s Rachel, the girl he thought he’d lost years ago. She’s back, and she’s determined to be part of his life, whether he wants her there or not.
Then there are college decisions to make, and the toughest baseball game of his life coming up, and a coach who won't stop pushing Josh all the way to the brink.
And then there’s Eve. Her return brings with it all the memories of Josh’s past. It’s time for Josh to face the truth about what happened.
If only he knew what the truth was . . .
I just have to say bravo to Bookish Blather for recommended this book to me after my review of Prey by Lurlene McDaniel went up. The areas in which I was disappointed in McDaniel's story were answered with Lyga's take on inappropriate student-teacher relationships. The best part of this story was how it was told, and who told it. In Boy Toy Josh is the sole narrator. This works to the novels strength allowing you know, understand, and be in Josh's head.

Before I go on I'd like to point why I read this book, and why I was so intrigued by the story line. Yes, it is a ripped-from-the-headlines tale, but it also a form of abuse many people don't see as abuse. When an adult male sleeps with his adolescent female student everyone is ready to call it abuse. When an adult female sleeps with her adolescent male student most people write it off with the idea that he's "a boy" and this somehow negates the abuse. This kind of thinking is flawed. Abuse is abuse no matter who it happens to. This is why I wanted to read this book. I wanted to see how this form of abuse was handled in fictional form. I wanted to know where a male author would take the subject matter.

That being said not only does Josh take on a similar mind set towards his abuse, but so do others in school and around him. Josh doesn't understand why everyone treats him differently. In many parts of the book Josh thinks "I got laid on regular basis, and that wins me sympathy?" It's clear that even with therapy and years between him and Eve Josh still doesn't understand what was so wrong with his relationship with her.

Then there is Rachel and her insisting on being a part of his life. It was very interesting to see how Josh's words always seemed to conflict with his emotional and physical responses to a relationship with a girl his own age. How their relationship evolves throughout the book shows so much about the consequences of a sexual relationship between a 12 year old student and his 25 year old female teacher.

In all I was very impressed by this book and how Lyga handled the very real situation of a female sexual predator and the stereotypical ideas behind it. He explored how that kind of relationship effected not only the victim, but his friends and family as well as the abusers own family. It is not a simple situation. It is complex and harmful, and this book handled the subject matter respectfully.


Angela Craft said...

I'm so glad you liked it!

Sami said...

Thanks for recommending it!

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