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4.4 5
Young Adult Fiction 327
Another great one from Barry Lyga
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I really enjoyed Lyga's Fan Boy and Goth Girl, though I'm torn now as to which book I liked better now. Boy Toy is the story of Josh. He's around eighteen now, but five years ago, when he was twelve going on thirteen, his history teacher engaged in an improper relationship with him. We've heard the stories (sadly enough, stuff like this seems to be written up in the news far more frequently than any of us would like) and here is a realistic look at how something like that happens and what it does to people's lives.

Josh is doubly burdened. The whole sordid mess came out (with the resultant trial and everything) when he was playing spin the bottle with his friend Rachel. Things got out of hand in a hurry, mostly because Josh just plain didn't know how to react properly after his experiences with his history teacher, Eve. Since then, he's avoided Rachel completely and has lashed out at the people around him, always feeling like he is being judged and weighed. The only person who he still considers a friend is Zik.

When the news comes down that Eve is about to be released from prison after only serving part of her sentence, Josh's mixed up world gets even more unbalanced. He also, for the first time in five years, is talking with Rachel again. He winds up telling her things that he hasn't even told his psychiatrist.

Josh is a very intelligent guy, but emotionally he's been caught in limbo. He has flashbacks that he calls 'flickers' where he flashes back to the past and sort of spaces out on the present. Most of those flashes have to do with Eve, as can be expected. Another big part of his life is baseball and the question of college (and college scholarships). Will he hear from the college of his choice (Stanford)? Will he be able to reconcile his past mistakes with Rachel with his current relationship with her? Will he run into Eve and, if so, what will happen?

I found this to be an honest and realistic look at a terrible situation, including how Josh felt about it. Lyga doesn't pull any punches or sugarcoat anything. But I'm also happy that there are glimmers of hope for Josh (and no, I won't tell you how it ends). Yes, he's damaged (aren't we all?) but he's going to be okay.

Recommended for readers (boys or girls) aged sixteen and up (or 14, if they are ready for some frank talk, though none of it overly specific...but, given the subject matter, there's definitely sex).

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