Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mock Printz: Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Title: Boy Toy
Author: Barry Lyga
Starred review in: VOYA, PW, Kirkus

Josh Mendel, math genius, varsity baseball player, and school pariah, was sexually abused by his seventh-grade history teacher, Eve. After Josh's parents learned the truth of his relationship with Eve, Eve went to trial and later to jail. Just before Josh's graduation he learns that Eve is about to be released from prison. The news of her release stirs feelings of confusion and regret in Josh. He knows what he lost when Eve abused him, but for years he has carried a painful secret about their Eve that has affected his relationship with Rachel, the only girl who could ever strike him out.

Lyga uses first-person POV and flashbacks to tell Josh's story and although this can lead to a bit of confusion at the beginning of the novel, it is ultimately the only way the story could have been told. Josh, though it's been five years since Eve went to jail, is still scarred and vulnerable because he cannot face the most important truth about Eve...which I won't write about here or it will spoil chapter 24.

It would have been easy, I think, to write this book in a linear fashion and have it be Angst on a Scandal, but instead it's a look at love, manipulation, blame, and wisdom. There's a LOT going on here. Josh's parents and friends have their own dramas, and he's trying to make a lot of important life decisions at once. But the end result is something tense and exhilarating, and I for one found it kind of soul-shattering (in a good way).

Judging by the past winners of the Printz it's unlikely this book could take the big award, but I think it holds up as well as many of the recent past honor books.

Reviewed by: Carlie, BCCLS

1 comment:

BookWyrm said...

I agree that this is book didn't take the easy way out or even a typical or normal view on the topic of sexual abuse. It was original and yet believable for the most part.
But that climactic scene in chapter 24, which I won't spoil either, let me saying "DUH!" and not feeling at all the soul-shattering reaction.
I did like it and I will recommend it to many teens. I just wish that I could change one or two sentences of that chapter.