Thursday, March 17, 2011

Boy Toy, by Barry Lyga- Review

Chapters/Indigo are having their annual 20% off sale on all children's and teen titles, this week, and I couldn't help myself, I had to get one more of Barry's books (among others of course, sale and bookstore are two word that combine to spell Rhiannon's epic wallet disaster).

Josh is eighteen and about to graduate and escape from Brookdale at long last.  This should spell the end of his misery, until the beautiful teacher who sexually abused him when he was twelve is let out on early parole.  As he struggles to pick Universities, re-kindle a relationship with the girl who helped expose his abuse when they were 13, and just make it through to graduation, Josh also has to learn to finally find some closure and forgive himself.  As if High school wasn't hard enough.

Boy Toy was an amazingly crafted book, and it constantly had me thinking about sexual abuse and it's myriad ways of screwing people up more than they would have been on their own.  I had honestly never thought of how different sexual abuse may be treated when it was between a teen and a good looking teacher.  I immediately thought of Mary Kay Letourneau, the teacher charged in 1997 of sexually abusing her 12 year old male student who later married her upon her release from prison.  It's exceedingly strange that people think differently about abuse between an adult male and a teen girl from the abuse by an adult woman and a teen boy.  As if somehow boys are more sexually mature and it's somewhat ok.  I love how Barry chooses to approach this, it really had me thinking, and that's an amazing feat for a book about such a difficult subject matter.

The positive moments of Boy Toy were a really nice counterpoint to the very dark narrative of the abuse itself.  Josh's friend Zik is a very small character and yet I think Josh's story might be a lot harder to read if it wasn't for his simple support.

A thought provoking story,  proving Barry Lyga is an author to watch.  Be aware there is sexually explicit scenes in his descriptions of the abuse.  If that's something you're uncomfortable with then please take a moment to consider the context before saying no to this story.  It's one I think everyone should read.

Boy Toy, By Barry Lyga
Published by Houghton Mifflin