Saturday, December 1, 2012
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
Barry Lyga's Boy Toy covers the difficult territory of child molestation. The story vacillates between Josh as a 12 soon to be 13 year-old and later when he's an 18-year-old high school senior. At the age 12 Josh meets Eve Sherman, his history teacher and the woman who would introduce him to sex before he reached his teen years.
Almost as disturbing as reading about Eve's seduction and molestation of a child, was reading about the reaction of Josh's parents, the police and prosecutor. Understandably Josh's parents, police and prosecutor want to see Josh's molester convicted and sent to prison. The problem is they are so wrapped up in achieving their goals that no one pays much attention to how Josh feels. He is reluctant to cooperate and no one really asks or seems to care why. Instead they threaten him and make him feel guilty for not helping them more. For years afterward he blames himself for what happened between him and Eve, not realizing he was victimized.
"I was molested. When I was twelve. And everyone in the world knew it except for me."
I found this story to be powerful and heartbreaking, but also hopeful. At the age of 18 Josh is struggling. He doesn't trust himself and is only beginning to heal. Lyga's writing is emotionally compelling and raw. One might argue that the parents and other adults are a little one-dimensional. On the other hand, given that the story is told from Josh's point of view the less than fully realized adults makes sense in context. In sum, though the subject matter is difficult, I wholeheartedly recommend Boy Toy.