18 October 2013

Book Review No. 77 ~ Boy Toy

OK so I tried to read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn but for some reason found myself unable to get wrapped up in the story.  I liked it when I was reading it but then when I put it down nothing compelled me to pick it back up again.  After keeping the book for 3 weeks I finally gave up and (gasp!) read the plot summary on Wikipedia.  Yes folks, confessions of a librarian...I don't always finish the book.  Anyway, I think I will really enjoy the movie in 2015...here's hoping.

So after that I picked up this book.  It's by the same author that wrote I Hunt Killers and The Game, Barry Lyga.  I found that I really liked his writing style...the man can compose some beautiful and profound sentences.  So I picked up this:

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Summary:  Josh Mendel has a secret.  Unfortunately, everyone knows what it is.  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...  (taken from book jacket)

First Lines:  "'Lucky thirteen,' my dad said when I blew out the candles on my birthday cake, and my mom shot down his lame attempt at humor with a disgusted 'Oh, Bill!'  But honestly, that's not the important part.  Not at all.  The ending began and the beginning ended and the whole mess just got fucked up beyond belief at the party at Rachel Madison's house a few days later."

My Critique:  Just right off the bat let me say that in order to give my full and true opinion of this book there will need to be SPOILERS.  So there's that...just so you know.  I admit that I was a bit hesitant to lug this book around on my adventures to the doctor's office and the car wash and the like because people do, in fact, judge a book by its cover and with a title like BOY TOY written across the front it seemed like I was reading some sort of smut and that I'm no better than some Fifty Shades of Grey groupie.  But whatever...I admit that I really didn't know what this book was about when I picked it up...as I mentioned Barry Lyga can compose some beautiful sentences that pique the literary recesses of my mind and I was excited to read something else by him.

Turns out when Josh is 12, just before his 13th birthday,  he has an ongoing sexual relationship with his teacher, Evelyn Sherman (Eve).  The book begins when Josh is 18 and Eve is being released from prison, having served her time.  Josh struggles to deal with conflicting emotions and with the thought that everyone knows is looking at him.  See, over the past 5 years while Eve was in prison, Josh has had everyone telling him that she's a monster and she did these horrible evil things to him...but he struggles to accept that because see...he wanted to have a sexual relationship with her.  He had a crush...more than a crush...he was infatuated with her...he daydreamed about her...fantasized about her...longed for her touch...her kiss.  So while everyone is saying how horrible she was all he can think about his how he was in love with her and he wanted it to happen and now that she got caught her whole life has been ruined.  There is a whole range of complex emotions here...both in Josh AND in the reader...because we are on this journey with him.  We are conflicted ourselves...because our minds tell us that she was his teacher and she shouldn't have let that happen but at the same time we have been inside his thoughts and know how he lusted for her.  It was sometimes easy to forget this was a budding relationship between teacher/student instead of simply between boy/girl.  In the end Josh goes to visit Eve after she is released from prison...wracked by guilt over having ruined her life and afraid to admit that he was angry at himself for doing so...and angry at himself for wanting it.  In their conversation Josh, and thereby the reader, learns that the entire dance was orchestrated by Mrs. Sherman from day 1.  That as soon as she saw him in class on the first day she was attracted and set her sights on him.  She manipulated him by orchestrating ways to get him alone...by treating him like an adult...by subtly seducing him until it seemed as if he were the initiator of their physical relationship.  Basically she manipulated his pubescent emotions until he was buzzing with his lust for her.  This is a huge revelation for Josh and he is finally able to sort through his emotions (baby steps) and begin to move on.  

The book ends with this:  "When I was 12 I was molested...and everyone in the world knew it but me."  Wow.

I really liked this book because of the emotional and psychological journey it takes both the protagonist and the reader on simultaneously.  Really delves into the complex emotions that go along with sexual abuse.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Boy Toy, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------oh wait, ummm, nevermind.......

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