Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Author: Barry Lyga
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Format: ebook
Length: 320 pages

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 . . .

FIRST IMPRESSION:: I didn't want to read this because of the subject matter. But I was drawn in very quickly. I think that Lyga did a fantastic job in capturing both the 12/13-year old Josh and the 18-year old Josh. I think both were handled with sensitivity and care which allowed this horrifying subject matter to still be an enjoyable read. A lot of this had to do with Josh as a character. He had so many dimensions to him. A driven athlete and student, a loner, a caring friend and a very confused young man.

My attention was especially captured by Josh's "flickers", or flashbacks to his relationship with Eve. It was a good way to foreshadow what was to come — the explanation of his relationship with Eve — as well as show the depth of how he had been traumatically affected.

THE STORY:: I'm going to mostly comment on Josh's relationships with women, because honestly, none felt healthy. First there's Eve, the woman who abused him. What made this book the most disturbing —specifically regarding Josh and Eve's relationship — was in the way that it was told from Josh's perspective and how his perspective read as "not disturbing". I felt like I was experiencing everything as Josh, and through his eyes, there was this natural progression of his relationship with Eve.

But, since I'm an adult, and there's been so much info out in the world regarding sexual predators, I knew there was nothing natural about it. She manufactured everything and it was quite chilling. The scenes between Eve and Josh are graphic and detailed. Again, hard to read t I think they were still handled as tastefully as they could be.

His mom was ... awful. I know it's harsh, but she just seemed so disinterested in Josh. His father grew suspicious about the "project" Josh and Eve were working on, but his mom never did. She was just interested in her career. I'm not sang this is a bad thing she just seemed unwilling to do anything that wold jeopardize her career. Including watching over her son. She dismissed his changing behavior and her own suspicions just to carry on with her life. I think that's why when the truth came out, she had such an appalling reaction in her treatment of Josh. It was probably fueled by guilt, but didn't like her at all.

Then there's Rachel. I really think she should have stayed away from him. There was something too desperate about her desire to be back in his life. And after what happened  between them, because of what he did to her... I couldn't root for this reunion. I also didn't like her approach n trying to "help" Josh. I don't think she was good for him as a love interest, as a friend... maybe.

Furthermore, all of the other elements made this story compelling. How his relationship with Eve was revealed. How the trial went. His sessions with his therapist. His treatment from his peers and teachers after everything came out and how he reacted to it.

FINAL THOUGHTS:: What I liked the most about this book is the ultimate reason as to why Josh kept quiet. It makes complete sense and was pretty dead-on as to why I didn't take about my teenage issues to my peers teachers, adults and especially authority figures. Also, of course, there's his final revelations at the end of the book — heartbreaking, and definitely satisfying. 

RECOMMENDED FOR:: Honestly, I think this would be a good book for preteens/teens to read. I know it has sexual content which could be considered "profane and inappropriate." But, I'd argue that knowledge is power. And I think this could help kids identify any dangerous adults in their lives.

But I think this is a good read for anyone. To not read it because of the subject matter, to label it as "filth" is wrong. This happens and this story, and the true stories that this reflects, should not be ignored just because they're not happy ones.

“... “It sneaked up on you. It happened in the small spaces between thoughts and in the seconds between ideas and blinks. That's where forgiveness happens. Anger and hatred, when left unfed, bleed away like air from a punctured tire, over time and days and years. Forgiveness is stealth.”

“We can know what love is. It’s adults who have forgotten, so they cling to their poor substitute and yell at kids who dare to live with real love. Pure love. Love without compromise or distraction. Hell, when you’re a kid you’ve got all the energy and all the free time in the world. You’ll never have the chance to devote more to love ever again in your life.”

“Maybe Rachel was right all along. Maybe the past is past, history is history, and you just push it aside and look for the future.”

"...I was molested. When I was twelve. And everyone in the world knew it except for me."
― Josh

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