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  • ISBN10: 0618723935
  • ISBN13: 9780618723935
  • Hardcover
  • Houghton Mifflin

Boy Toy
by Barry Lyga

Reviewed by Jaemi

Rating: 5 out of 5

  • Posted 7 years ago
  • Viewed 5337 times, 0 comments
  • Average user rating: (5/5)

The book you may hate to love.

When I saw Barry Lyga's bulletin on MySpace about getting a copy of the ARC for his newest book, I jumped on it. And I jumped right in without reading any of the blurbs. Which I generally tend to do if a book grabs me in its first sentence. So by the time I realized where it was all headed, it was too late to stop or go back or put it down. Because it's a great story. And I give unending kudos to Barry for writing it. And I know there are going to be a lot of people who are going to be up in arms.

Josh Mendel attends South Brook High--a school familiar to anyone who's read Fanboy. Josh's High School life has been made up mostly of avoidance. Five years ago his life changed forever, and everyone knows, and he's sure everyone thinks of it every time they see him.

He walks the halls, he plays ball, but that's pretty much where school ends for him. It's pretty much where life ends for him.

At 12, Josh was ahead of his years. Mature, smart in a way most people couldn't understand--himself included, as it just seemed normal to him. When his gorgeous, and young, History teacher, saves him from a pinch one day when school closes due to an insane snow storm, that's it. The pivot point. But he doesn't know it yet.

Life at home hasn't been fun. He's not allowed to play video games, his parents have been arguing. So when Mrs. Sherman asks for Josh's help for a Grad School project, both he and his parents, or his mother at least, are relieved. Josh will have somewhere to be after school, his mother can work without guilt, his father can rest assured his son isn't spending too much time home alone.

At first, Josh spends his afternoons at school. Then at Mrs. Sherman's apartment. Eventually, he's usually eating dinner there.

He becomes an Xbox wizz. George, Mrs. Sherman's husband, comes home after days testing games, to watch Josh play. Eve, Mrs. Sherman, becomes his friend. She treats him like an adult, instead of a child. He figures it can't get any better.

And then she kisses him.

Here comes the up-in-arms part. This is a book about molestation. About a boy who had a relationship with his 24-year-old teacher. About a boy who, on his 13th birthday, went too far in the closet with his best friend Rachel, and could never bring himself to face her again, thus breaking up the four musketeers. And did I mention he thinks it's all his fault?

Even looking back, it's hard for Josh to figure out when things changed. It's all just one long mesh and merge. School, apartment, teacher, friend, video games, making out. The final progression. Indeed, Josh and Eve had plans for an outing, meant to take place just days after the whole ordeal comes to accidental light.

Josh doesn't want to talk. To his parents, to the cops. He promised never to tell, knows how much trouble Eve could get in. Even confronted with the names of boys Eve came on to in the High School, which prompted her transfer to his Middle School, Josh doesn't want to talk. To betray Eve.

But it all comes out. Legal pads full of his handwriting, detailing it all. Because he remembers everything.

School becomes a nightmare. Especially after Eve's testimony ends up on the internet. No names of course, but he knows they know. George makes a light night appearance in his backyard to pummel him. The 13-year-old.

So I suppose it's no surprise that for the next five years Josh wants as little do with people as possible. Wants only to get the hell out of town. Who wouldn't? I'm sure he'd get out of his own story if he could. Just like some readers may want to get out of his story. But will find themselves pulled in. Because it's that good. And it's that worth it.

After all, making it through, arriving at the other side, that's what it's all about.

*mi

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