One Teen's Struggle to Recover is Well-Documented in This Controversial Novel

Source: Author Website
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2007, 416pp.)

At 12, Josh Mendel was never really the kind of kid you’d expect to get into major trouble—but then he meets his history teacher, Eve, and that’s when everything changes. Like many boys his age, he has a crush on Eve, and is surprised to find out one day that Eve really likes him, too. In the months that follow, Eve teaches him how to please her sexually, and makes him promise not to tell anyone about their “special relationship.” Confused by the adult feelings aroused by his affair with Eve, Josh blows their cover when he accidentally almost rapes his childhood friend, Rachael, after she engages him in an innocent make-out session.


Five years later, Eve is in prison, and Josh is still reeling in the aftermath. He and Rachael are no longer friends—in fact, he barely has but one friend, Zeke, still left from childhood. He’s angry all the time, gets into trouble constantly, and finds it difficult to forgive himself for what almost happened to Rachael. Will he always be known as “that kid that banged the history teacher?” More importantly, was it really love that he and Eve had? Or was he actually molested as his parents and the police claim?

Parents, never fear. Boy Toy isn’t quite the illicit sex-fest you may fear it to be (though it does have a few sex-scene flashbacks). The purpose of the novel is to examine one teen’s struggle to recover from a complex, traumatizing situation, and in my opinion, it does that perfectly. With well-developed characters and quick pacing, I’d recommend this novel for mature teens, ages 16-18.

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