Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Boy Toy - Review

Title: Boy Toy
Author: Barry Lyga
Release Date: September 24, 2007
Format/Page Count: Kindle/410
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Purchased: Amazon 

Josh Mendel has a secret. Unfortunately, everyone knows what it is.
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 . . . (From GOODREADS)

A fan created book trailer for BOY TOY. Complete with some great quotes from the book!

Expectation: To be honest, I went in to this one with only one hope...I hope the author gets it right. I was tentative, because of the subject matter, but interested to see how it was handled.


TRIGGER ALERT: This story is one of sexual abuse. Be forewarned that it may contain triggering content. It is the story of a 12-year-old boy being sexually abused by a female teacher. If you could potentially experience triggering through reading a story of this nature, BOY TOY may not be for you.

This story opens with a list. ‘Ten Things I Learned at the Age of Twelve’. It’s a quirky little list that could have been created by any twelve-year-old boy. Until you get to the last item on the list. #10 is both shocking and disturbing. #10 brings the reader immediately into the heart of this earth-shattering story.

After the list, Boy Toy opens on the remembrance of the narrator Josh Mendel’s 13th birthday party. Josh has already lived through sexual abuse at the hands of one of his female teachers, Mrs. Sherman. What the reader is given to understand is that everybody else knows what has happened to Josh, but that Josh himself is not very clear on the subject. What goes wildly wrong in the first chapter is the result of Josh’s lack of understanding. When he finds himself in the basement closet of his friend, Rachel, Josh really has no idea what is appropriate and what is inappropriate where thirteen-year-old relationships are concerned. Mrs. Sherman took all understanding away from Josh the day she started sexually abusing him.

This is a story of a boy coming back from sexual abuse. It is an achingly beautiful read and it is a story well told. Looking into this boy’s story gives readers an understanding of the difficulties faced by victims of molestation. Lyga does an excellent job showing the skewed understanding and mixed emotions Josh deals with as a result of his abuse. As Josh narrates the story, he is actually eighteen. He’s getting ready to finish high school and he carries a huge burden. He feels guilty for destroying his teacher’s life…for wrecking her marriage, for causing her to lose her teacher’s career and end up in jail. What he doesn’t realize is that none of it is his fault. His feeling are a direct result of the huge trauma he underwent while the abuse was happening.

When Josh’s teacher is released from prison, he feels her presence everywhere. He’s just waiting to come face to face with her. His fear and guilt is palpable…but so is the sense that he wants to see her. It is around the same time that Rachel, his friend from the 13th birthday party fiasco, comes back for another round. Rachel wants Josh. I’m not sure if this relationship is what Lyga intended…it’s rather sketchy to me. Rachel, in my opinion, is abrasive and pushy. Quite frankly, I could see her actions actually re-traumatizing Josh, if nothing else. This was the part of the story that stood out as iffy to me…and my reason for reluctantly giving it four stars instead of five.

Josh’s relationship with his best friend, Zik, was extremely well played. Zik was constantly there for Josh…but the whole time there was a wall between them. We shall not talk of this became such a huge barrier that it became something else for Josh to feel guilty about. The way the relationship was played out was deeply satisfying.

I readily admit to being totally conflicted by this story. If not for the way Rachel was portrayed, it would have been a 5-star read for me. I just don't understand the motivation behind having Rachel being so forceful with Josh. Maybe it was intentional, I don't know. I can't pretend to understand the author's reasonings.

I do know that should you choose to read Boy Toy, you'll love it. It's well written and it's a skilful look into a topic that is often taboo. I applaud Lyga for tackling it...and for doing it justice. I do highly recommend Boy Toy--Rachel objections aside.

Expectation: Lyga did an amazing job representing Josh’s conflicted feelings for Eve (Mrs. Sherman). Josh’s emotional rollercoaster was so well played, as were his struggle with right and wrong and the confusion he experienced regarding guilt and blame/aggressor and victim. This book far exceeded my expectations. A great read!

Size: 4

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