‘Boy Toy’ – Barry Lyga

Boy Toy


This review appeared originally on my Good Reads page.

Seventeen year-old Josh Mendel has a lot to deal with. Five years earlier, it comes to light that he was abused by his history teacher. Since the day she pleaded guilty he has had to come to terms with the things that happened to him.
The story is revealed slowly. We jump in and out of the present and Josh’s memories. This is a boy suffering, and it’s made more upsetting by the way he seems unaware of the extent of his suffering.

I imagine that there is a fine line when writing about such a relationship. It’s such an abuse of trust, but Lyga has Josh recall the events in such detail that it does, on occasion, come across as an attempt to titillate. While this isn’t comfortable reading, what happens later in the novel makes sense of what we’ve been told.

While the baseball obsession became something to wade through, it again helps make sense of Josh’s mindset and character. The moment where things click for Josh was the point at which I felt I understood the extent to which Josh had been affected by earlier events. By the end of the novel he was starting to take control of his life, and to come to accept his status as victim without letting it define him.

This is a hard review to write as my feelings about the novel changed throughout. It will probably offend some, and though I didn’t like the fact that Josh got to see Eve at the end of the novel I felt it showed how she was losing the hold she had over him at such a crucial time in his life.