"Boy Toy" is one of the most eye opening books I’ve read in a while, though I’m very sure that this will not be a book for anyone and everyone to read. I thought it was very well done account on the issue of child molestation, told from the perspective of an eighteen year old boy reflecting back on his sexual relationship with one of his former teachers when he was only twelve years old. I’ll admit in part that I didn’t know what to expect coming into this story, but now that I’ve finished it, I’m glad I read it.
But I have to admit it was painful – it’s a hard book to read for the subject matter, seriously.
Barry Lyga uses different methods to tell the story within – all depicted from the eyes of Josh Mendel – from a series of reflective flashbacks to transcripts of the recorded conversations between Josh and his therapist to the current situation where he’s trying to contend with the process of moving on in his life from the case. And it’s heartbreaking in many places.
Josh is a boy with issues, but he’s also just a normal kid with normal likes. He’s passionate about baseball, he’s preparing himself for college, and also keeping himself in check for graduating soon. He’s also very smart (one humorous scene occurs in the beginning of this book when Josh is driving his best friend Zik that made me smile. Zik asks him to do some calculations in his head and he just gets completely annoyed with him. Probably one of the few times I did smile in the progression of the book). I genuinely liked Josh, and I did feel for him in the story as he has to deal with a myriad of bombshells that drop on him in the story.
The first of said bombshells occurs when his former teacher, Eve, gets released from prison. That stirs up many flashing memories and writhing pains in Josh. He doesn’t have an easy time coming to terms with it, even to the point where it sabotages his relationships with other girls (especially considering one incident with his former best friend Rachel). This book was terribly convincing on Josh’s feelings of being trapped, confused, horrified, and wondering where to go after the incident, and it also shows that even when the incident happened years before – he continued to blame himself until he finally realizes the reality of what went on.
I can’t say any more on what happens after Eve’s release or even expand on the before and after senario without serious spoilers, but I would highly, highly recommend this book for one who can read this with an open mind and wants see how Lyga approaches the issue. Much of it is very convincing and will leave you with some things to think about on this controversial subject. There were a few issues I had with respect to how some events played out (particularly towards the end), but I couldn’t complain when I considered the work as a whole.
Overall score: 4/5