Friday, May 14, 2010

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Josh is a brilliant but difficult kid. His anger flashes into violence in a heartbeat. He won't even talk to his former best friend, and you know that he has done something to her about which he feels terrifically guilty.

As the story unfolds, the truth of what has happened to him is revealed: When he was only twelve years old, his married social studies teacher very carefully manipulated and seduced him. An unconventional sexual predator, Eve was caught and convicted of the crime. Now Josh is a senior, and Eve has just been released. Along with her release comes a confrontation with Rachel, the girl he has been avoiding for five years. Will Josh be able to tamp down the flood of memories that threaten to drown him?

Chilling, difficult, interesting, and at times long-winded, Boy Toy is a piercing look at the relationship between the confused child victim and adult predator. Well-written but very disturbing.

Students have been asking for this one for over a year; then I read a School Library Journal article about censorship that featured this book. The topic alone is pretty intriguing.

Bibliotherapeutic value: The tension comes from the fact that, as readers, we know exactly what is going on -- and that's a brutal reminder of how young and innocent the victim truly is. A deep look at how, for the victims of sexual abuse, even the most normal situation can become fertile ground for guilt and shame. Potently shows how sexual trauma robs its victims.

Lyga, Barry. Boy Toy. New York: Houghton, 2007.

ISBN: 978-0-618-72393-5.  $16.95.

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