RadReads#2…Boy Toy by Lyga

It’s National Library Week and we’re celebrating by featuring RadReads everyday this week.  We consider RadReads to be the books that hook you, shock you with their authenticity, and don’t let go until the end–and then, of course, you find yourself left wanting a sequel or even a whole series!  Sometimes though, RadReads are the books that are sooo hard to read because they are soooo real, or because they remind teen readers of similar distressing moments in their own lives.  But that is why RadReads are sooo valuable because they offer readers a safe space to feel, to acknowledge, to heal, to laugh, to cry, to be mad, and to sometimes just process the bits of life that are hard to process on your own.  And on that note we’d like to give a GIANT shout out to all the RadReads authors for giving teens the stories that they want, need, and love. WOOOOOOT!

And yes, part of that shout out goes to you, Barry Lyga!  Oh man, it doesn’t get much more taboo than up in Barry Lyga’s book Boy Toy.  (Yes, that’s the same Barry Lyga who wrote the very fantastic Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, not to mention its sequel Goth Girl Rising!)  Boy Toy is a very racy considering it’s focused around the extremely inappropriate sexual relationship between a female teacher and a male teenage student.  The topics are heavy to say the least and Lyga has bravely delivered us a read that is, unfortunately, very relevant to our culture these days.  This is an important read for students and teachers alike.  Recommended for readers age 16+

And now it’s time for one of our favorite reviews of the book:

School Library Journal (Starred Review, October 2007 edition) 
 “For the past five years, Joshua Mendel has struggled with the aftermath of being sexually abused by his seventh-grade history teacher. Now a high school senior, he still experiences ‘flickers,’ his name for vivid, mini-flashbacks of his times with Eve. He still refuses to associate with Rachel, his seventh-grade romantic interest whose insistence on a game of spin the bottle at a party led to the exposure of his abuse, a trial, and Eve’s imprisonment. Rachel is eager to resume their long-abandoned tentative romance, Eve has been released from prison, and Josh wants nothing more than to win a baseball scholarship to a college far from his small town where he feels certain everyone knows about his past. Despite years of counseling, Josh is unable to move on until he reveals the complete details of his experiences with Eve to Rachel and to his friend, Zik, and finally learns to accept the truth about it. Short groups of chapters set in the present alternate with much lengthier segments entitled ‘Flashbacks, Not Flickers,’ in which Josh describes his relationship with Eve from the beginning to the emotionally wrenching trial. The well-paced plot begins slowly, describing Eve’s initial approaches to Josh as she wins his confidence and loyalty, then speeds up as their more frequent contacts move into the realm of inappropriate teacher/student behavior. Lyga’s skillful writing subtly reveals Eve’s cleverly calculated abuse of Josh in a way that older teens will find fascinating, distressing, and worthy of their attention.”

Such events that take place in Lyga’s Boy Toy are, sadly, all too common in schools across the country these days.  If you find yourself in a similar situation, or know someone who is, get some help and tell someone.  It’s not right and it’s not your fault.  Really.  It’s not right.  It’s not your fault.  Tell someone you trust because help is readily available.  You can also check out these links for further assistance and info:

ChildHelp USA –link to National Abuse Hotline and general information for kids, teens, adults, and professionals

TeenTalk –Sexuality and relationship information from Planned Parenthood

RAINN–Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network featuring 24/7 online hotline

Stay tuned all week as we continue to celebrate with more RadRead recommendations and helpful links in honor of 2010′s National Library Week!

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