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Boy Toy Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 720L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (September 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618723935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618723935
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. When Josh was a 12-year-old seventh grader, he was sexually abused by his history teacher, the young, beautiful (and married) Eve, who manipulated him into believing they were in love. Carefully crafting a narrative structure, Lyga flashes between that traumatic time and the present, when Josh, now a senior (at the school where The AstonishingAdventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl took place), learns that Eve is being paroled. The author handles heavy material with honesty and sensitivity, capturing both the young Josh's excitement and his realization that his pleasure brought its own sort of guilt. Years later, he still struggles: he flies into rages (he punches a baseball coach in an opening scene), and he experiences flickers, brief moments which feel like actual immersions in the past. Josh also has trouble pursuing Rachel, who seems like a perfect match, because he cannot trust his physical instincts; he is, as his psychologist puts it, afraid to do anything at all because it might be the wrong thing. Details like Josh's obsession with calculating baseball statistics round out his character; the statistics speak to his intelligence and, more tellingly, to his attempts to control his world. Even his inevitable face-off with Eve proves a revelation. Readers may find the ending too neat, given the extent of Josh's problems, but in their richness and credibility the cast—Eve included—surpasses that of the much-admired Fanboy. Ages 16-up. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Whenever a book for young adults moves the bar sexually, it demands a closer look. Rainbow Party (2005), a treatise on oral sex by Paul Ruditis, does that in a crude, sensationalistic way. Brock Cole's The Facts Speak for Themselves (1997) is a finely crafted novel about a girl whose affair with an adult suits her purposes until a murder intervenes. Now comes Barry Lyga's novel, also about an affair, but here the boy is 12, and the woman is his teacher. The story is told by 18-year-old Josh Mendel. A fine mathematician, an equally able baseball player, he suffers from flashbacks he calls flickers. Readers are shocked into the story during the midst of one of his early flickers. He's at his friend Rachel's house, and the kids are in a closet, kissing. Then something happens, something ugly, though readers are not sure quite what. Move forward five years. Josh has not spoken to Rachel since, but now that graduation is drawing near, she reaches out to him. He's tempted but is held back by the memory of his relationship with his history teacher, Eve Sherman. Josh explains to the reader, sometimes in shocking detail, just what transpired. Under the guise of needing Josh to take some tests for a graduate-school project, lovely Eve begins bringing the boy to her apartment. Eventually, the test taking tapers off, and the kissing begins. Then things go further, much further. It is only after the incident in the closet, where it is eventually revealed that Josh ripped off Rachel's panties and started to do things Eve taught him, that the truth of the student-teacher sexual relationship becomes public. Once again, the story fast-forwards, and Josh, in his first-person narrative, chronicles his evolving relationship with Rachel and his tribulations on the baseball diamond as he tries to take back control of his life. When he is unable to perform sexually with Rachel after the prom, he breaks down and recounts the details of Eve's trial: how he refused to testify against her, how he believed he was in love with her and she with him. Then, in the final pages, Josh confronts Eve, who is now out of prison. Facing her, as well as the anger, fear, and confusion their relationship stirs in him, finally allows him to be free. A story about a pretty teacher seducing a boy has a "ripped from the headlines" quality about it. Perhaps the most famous real-life case is that of Mary Kay Letourneau and her 13-year-old boyfriend (whom she later married), but there have been others. The 2006 movie Notes on a Scandal brought a similar scenerio to the big screen. Nor is this the first YA book to deal with student-teacher relationships. Melvin Burgess' raunchy Doing It (1996), which discusses sex in a dizzying array of contexts, comes to mind, but in that book, the boy is an older teen and the teacher 20. Eve Sherman is twice the age of Josh, and while the story accurately chronicles the way children are often groomed by their predators for sexual activities, the descriptions of what goes on between the two of them are sometimes so graphic that they border on soft porn: "She dropped to her knees and unbuckled my belt, then skinned down my pants, and underpants. I was ready for her already, and she dived down, darting her head like a starving bird. . . . She stopped. "Watch me," she groaned. "Watch.' With the sexuality of a boy at the core of the story, the writing supporting it should be meticulous; otherwise, the author's exploration of a risky subject can easily be reduced to a gimmick. Brock Cole got it right in The Facts Speak for Themselves, where he so compellingly transcribes young Linda's unemotional voice as she describes everyday details and shocking events in equal measure. Lyga, author of the popular Fan Boy and Goth Girl (set in the same high school as Boy Toy), fashions a heavier burden for himself: he tries to tie so many plotlines together, the story staggers under the weight of the storytelling. The baseball subplot, complete with Josh's antagonistic relationship with his coach, sometimes seems like it belongs in another book. Another story thread about Josh's parents' devolving relationship is a distraction. Much more successful is the character development throughout. As in his previous book, Lyga's cast feels very real, and he knows how to play the characters against each other. Josh's interactions with Rachel and Eve dovetail neatly, and Lyga astutely laces Josh's feelings about his mother into that configuration. The book ends with a revelation that is surprising, if not quite believable. What will seem believable for readers is Josh's emotional journey. This is someone who has experienced sex and has experienced love, confused the two, and now, thanks to Rachel, knows the difference. Teens, who think they know so much about sexuality, may see the subject in a new way here. And if they garner the same understanding Josh does, Lyga's vivid use of sex scenes just may be worth it. Cooper, Ilene

More About the Author

Called a "YA rebel-author" by Kirkus Reviews, Barry Lyga has published twelve novels in various genres in his seven-year career, including the New York Times bestselling I Hunt Killers and his newest, Unsoul'd (for adults). His books have been or are slated to be published in nine different languages in North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia.

After graduating from Yale with a degree in English, Lyga worked in the comic book industry before quitting to pursue his lifelong love of writing. In 2006, his first young adult novel, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, was published to rave reviews, including starred reviews from Booklist and School Library Journal. Publisher's Weekly named Lyga a "Flying Start" in December 2006 on the strength of the debut.

His second young adult novel, Boy Toy, received starred reviews in SLJ, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus. VOYA gave it its highest critical rating, and the Chicago Tribune called it "...an astounding portrayal of what it is like to be the young male victim." His third novel, Hero-Type, according to VOYA "proves that there are still fresh ideas and new, interesting story lines to be explored in young adult literature."

Since then, he has also written Goth Girl Rising (the sequel to his first novel), as well as the Archvillain series for middle-grade readers and the graphic novel Mangaman (with art by Colleen Doran).

His latest series is I Hunt Killers, called by the LA Times "one of the more daring concepts in recent years by a young-adult author" and an "extreme and utterly alluring narrative about nature versus nurture." The first book landed on both the New York Times and USAToday bestsellers lists, and the series has been optioned for television by Warner Bros./Silver Pictures.

Lyga lives and writes in New York City. His comic book collection is a lot smaller than it used to be, but is still way too big.

Customer Reviews

For those who want a little more: HOLY CRAP THIS WAS A REALLY GOOD BOOK!!!
Jason Frost
Intermixed with this story are Josh's love of baseball, and his relationship with his friends Rachel, Michelle and BF Zik.
Ninjaba
I found the story compelling and well told a credit to Barry Lyga's writing style.
R. H. Marquez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Sarah W VINE VOICE on March 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Josh was an ordinary twelve year old who loved baseball, was good at school, and didn't have the best home life. His life was changed forever though when he was molested by his history teacher, Eve Sherman. Using alcohol, video games, and the allure of her body, Eve changes everything for Josh.

Now about to graduate high school, Josh learns that Eve is being released from prison. His world, only slightly sane during her imprisonment, becomes a turmoil of new thoughts and feelings. The guilt grows heavier than ever. A new relationship may fuel things for the better in Josh's life but can he ever truly move pass what happened to him.

Controversial, seductive, and all too realistic, Barry Lyga tackles a topic that has been become more and more prevalent in today's high school environment. There are no easy answers in real life, nor are there in this book. Josh is an engaging, quick-witted young man though and despite the trauma he went through at Eve's hands, he does have a good head on his shoulders. It is very easy to sympathize with Josh. How could you not? He went through a hell of a bad "relationship" at twelve years old. But things are not cut and dry in this book. Lyga does a good job of exploring Josh's character, of exploring the whys of why this happened to him.

I found myself comparing Eve a deadly spider, luring Josh into her home after school, making him feel like a man. It is easy to feel disgusted by her character, to feel contemptuous of her, but Lyga tries to not make her a flat, stock character. I appreciated his efforts, even as I knew nothing could make me like Eve.

This book gets somewhat raunchy at times.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on January 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In BOY TOY, author Barry Lyga takes readers on an incredible journey into a world that, for some, like main character Josh Mendel, is all too real. Josh's life was changed at age twelve when his teacher took the role of educator far beyond the limits of acceptable behavior. Lyga's story does not cut corners or mince words. He is straightforward and direct in telling Josh's story. His graphic descriptions may have earned him criticism, but they have also made his story a powerful one.

Josh Mendel loves baseball. He is a wiz at math. His best friend, Zik, seems to be the one with the rocky home life and all the problems, but not for long.

Mrs. Evelyn Sherman is the new history teacher recently transferred from the local high school to the middle school. She is drop-dead gorgeous. All the boys probably find it a bit embarrassing to stand up and leave the classroom some days. Josh certainly does.

Josh's involvement with Mrs. Sherman begins when she praises his writing and asks him to help her with a project for her graduate class. Honored and excited, Josh is eager to help. Problems at home make staying after school, and later actually going home with Mrs. Sherman, a convenience for Josh and his parents. He begins spending more and more time with her even after her project is complete.

At first, being in Mrs. Sherman's apartment everyday after school is exciting, because Josh gets to play unlimited video games, drink Coke, and hang out with an attentive, beautiful woman. His time in the apartment becomes even more fascinating when Mrs. Sherman begins inviting him to help her cook dinner and sip wine with her. Then kisses begin - tentative and then passionate. The passion moves from petting to full-on sexual experimentation.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on January 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I should clarify that as someone unfortunately familiar with sexual misbehavior from adults when a teenager and who experiences the OCD-caused intrusive thoughts the protagonist calls "flickers', this book bothered me significantly. However, it may not have the same effect on others. You may ask, with my history, why did I pick it up? The product description did not mention anything about abuse, only that there were two females in the protagonist's life, and a secret. I was more interested in the "decisions about college" that were described.

The book is well-written, and the sexual feelings of Josh, the main character, and his confusion are honest. However, I would hesitate to give this book to a young teen. Perhaps it would be useful as a cautionary tale, but I'm not sure. It's possible that the descriptions and the shame will be a bit too haunting to the point of scarring if the reader is less than emotionally healthy to begin with. While the ending is not all rosy and wonderful, there is some healing for Josh that a reader could possibly take hope from. Still, I suggest parents be careful and look at this book first.

As a side note, the title strikes me as too casual and flip for this story to the point of being inappropriate. However, as I said, the book is well-written and the main character is portrayed with outstanding and memorable depth. Thus, I'll probably look at this author's other work such as Fanboy and Gothgirl, although I may sit in the bookstore and leaf through it before purchasing. Also, I might recommend this book to adult reading groups comfortable discussing taboo subjects as the psychological portrayals are gripping and affecting.
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