Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Book Info
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
©2007 Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY
ISBN 978-0618723935

Plot Summary
Nearly everyone has been “hot for teacher” at one point in their lives, and Eve Sherman was the seventh grade history teacher that all the boys had a crush on. For 12 year old Josh, it became much more than just a crush when Eve took him back to her home one day when he missed the bus and seduced him into an ongoing sexual relationship. Eventually, the cat gets out of the bag, and Eve went to jail.

This was five years ago, and now Josh is trying to pick up the pieces of his life in the aftermath of his experience with Eve. He was damaged and victimized, now suffering from violent anger and fear of relationships. He has a crush on his childhood friend, Rachel but is afraid and unsure of how a real relationship should be. So far, he has managed to cope by immersing himself in baseball and trying desperately for a scholarship, but Eve is about to be released on parole. Can he overcome his past?

Reader’s Annotation
“How to please a woman” isn’t something often found on a twelve-year-old’s list of things learned in school, but for Josh Mendel it was number ten of ten. Now seventeen, Josh is trying to put the broken pieces of his life in order, recovering from being seduced by his seventh grade history teacher so many years before.

Critical Evaluation
Boy Toy is yet another book that I learned about while doing research for my intellectual freedom paper. I had read that the author had received feedback from many librarians, praising the book and saying how well written it was, but that they just couldn’t justify stocking in their library. I interpreted this to mean that this book about a female teacher’s sexual relationship with a student tells a great story, is incredibly well written, but is perhaps a  little on the graphic side in the manner in which the controversial tale is told. Usually, when I hear something like this, my instinct is that there is even more reason to include such a book in a library’s collection. A librarian should be prepared with defenses because the things that people don’t want to talk about and that make them feel uncomfortable are exactly the stories that need to be out there being told. This book lived up to all of my expectations and I am proud that my local library has this in its collection.

Information about the Author
After graduating from Yale with a degree in English, Barry Lyga worked in the comic book industry for ten years. He wrote comics for part of that time, but also was responsible for spearheading and developing Free Comic Book Day, the comics’ only industry-wide promotion. During those years, he was a spokesperson for the industry in general, quoted in countless newspaper and magazine articles, as well as appearing on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” He co-wrote a book on incorporating comic books and graphic novels into school libraries and has spoken on the topic at regional and national conferences.

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. USA Today called it “an entertaining read no matter what age you are.” VOYA commented, “A triumphant finale leaves readers wanting to read the novel again and again.” SLJ listed the book as one of the best of 2006. 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, hit stores in Fall 2008 and, according to VOYA “proves that there are still fresh ideas and new, interesting story lines to be explored in young adult literature.”

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

From the author’s website.

Genre
Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Curriculum Ties
N/A

Booktalking Ideas
Discuss the effects that Josh’s ordeal had on the rest of his teen life.

Why did Eve seduce Josh, and what do you think she got out of it?

Reading Level/ Interest Age
16+

Challenge Issues

  • Sexual explicitness
  • Foul language

Defense options

  • Be aware of your library’s collection development policy.
  • Be familiar with the material in question, and the context of the questionable content.
  • Assert the principles of the ALA Library Bill of Rights, and standards of intellectual freedom.
  • Consult online book reviews, and others who have read the book.
    • Be familiar with awards and positive feedback the book has received.

Why Included?
I was introduced to the book while doing research for a term paper on intellectual freedom. It seemed like exactly the kind of book I would want to read and include in my collection.

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