by Barry Lyga
reviewed by Mercedes De La Torre
Barry Lyga’s Boy Toy is a story, which discusses the rather uncomfortable theme of molestation, specifically, a sexual relationship between a student and his teacher. The story revolves around a young boy named Josh Mendel who is now a senior living in Brookdale, Maryland. Flashback five years, Josh is in 7th grade and allegedly “sexually attacked” his friend Rachel at the celebration of her 13th birthday. The case went to trial, he was found guilty and sentenced to mandatory therapy. Flash-forward 5 years and Mrs. Sherman is being released from jail which makes Josh feel as though he is reliving the entire thing all over again. The molestation began to affect his self-esteem, he began to feel uncomfortable when it came to talking to girls, especially Rachel. One day Rachel challenges the star baseball player to a hitting game. If he can hit one of her pitches she tells him that she will never both him about the situation again. If she strikes him out, he must then reveal to her even the most gruesome details of what happened between him and Mrs. Sherman and needless to say, Rachel does strike him out.
Overall, one word to describe my experience with this book would be pure disturbance. The first concept I just could not seem to grasp was how a grown woman could truly believe that she was in love with a twelve-year-old boy, let alone approach him. I could not help but sympathize for this poor young man who was clearly being taken advantage of. Josh was an impeccable young man who loved baseball and had the kindest heart. Lyga truly did an amazing job making the readers fall in love Josh’s character; making you feel that much worse for him. Josh’s unfortunate experience not only had short-term effects on him, but more importantly long-term effects. Josh, as many victims do, began to feel as though it was his fault and he was the one to blame, which couldn't be further from the truth. Josh did not deserve anything he went through but in the long run it made him a stronger person and it became an unfortunate experience to learn from. Sometimes the most painful and difficult situations are the ones we learn the most from.
This book moved me in more ways than I could describe. In a way I always knew these types of things happened but it wasn’t until I read each and every detail, that it really hit me how much of a toll this takes on someone and how it can change their lives forever.