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Boy Toy

Boy Toy

4.7 82
by Barry Lyga

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Josh Mendel has a secret. Unfortunately, everyone knows what it is.
   Five years ago, Josh’s life changed. Drastically. And everyone in his school, his town—seems like the world—thinks they understand. But they don’t—they can’t. And now, about to graduate from high school, Josh is still trying to sort through


Josh Mendel has a secret. Unfortunately, everyone knows what it is.
   Five years ago, Josh’s life changed. Drastically. And everyone in his school, his town—seems like the world—thinks they understand. But they don’t—they can’t. And now, about to graduate from high school, Josh is still trying to sort through the pieces. First there’s Rachel, the girl he thought he’d lost years ago. She’s back, and she’s determined to be part of his life, whether he wants her there or not.Then there are college decisions to make, and the toughest baseball game of his life coming up, and a coach who won’t stop pushing Josh all the way to the brink. And then there’s Eve. Her return brings with it all the memories of Josh’s past. It’s time for Josh to face the truth about what happened.
   If only he knew what the truth was . . .

Editorial Reviews

Jack Martin
In a culture so saturated with sex, where 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears's pregnancy is common knowledge to fifth graders, what are teenagers to make of this book? What Lyga gives only glimpses of, through Josh's difficulty connecting to Rachel (or almost anyone else in his life), is the collateral damage caused by child abuse. Still, the novel vividly explores the gray areas between love, lust, right and wrong. Josh has nearly convinced himself that he bears the responsibility for the affair with Eve, rather than the other way round—until he's finally able to end that chapter for good. Boy Toy is an unsettling read, but that's exactly what it ought to be.
—The New York Times
Children's Literature - Drew Blanchette
From an outsider's perspective, Josh Mendel would appear to be the perfect teenager: He is exceptional when it comes to baseball, is good-looking, and still has the brains to qualify for Ivy League schools. Five years ago, however, Josh lost his chance to be a normal teenager when his seventh grade teacher, Eve, began to molest him. Haunted by the sexual experiences with Eve, Josh desperately wants to leave his hometown and escape to a place where no one will know about his past. At first it seems as if Josh might be able to float through the rest of senior year, going through all the motions, while never allowing himself to grow close to anyone besides his best friend, Zik. But soon, Josh finds himself falling for Rachel, a lost friend with whom he assumed he never again would be reunited. Now he finds himself reliving the moments he spent with Eve as he attempts to start from the beginning with Rachel. He knows everything about women, and yet he is completely innocent. Normal rites of passage for teenagers—kissing, relationships, and prom—are excruciating psychological hurdles for a confused Josh; furthermore, Eve has been recently released from prison due to good behavior. Josh is terrified of encountering Eve, but her return also forces him to face his past. While this is a disturbing story, it is impossible for it not to be. Josh brings to light the inner turmoil we all fight as we grow up and the dark secrets we all desperately try to hide from others, however great or small. It is a story that proves that our past might begin to shape us, but not necessarily defeat us, unless we allow it. Reviewer: Drew Blanchette
VOYA - Geri Diorio
When Josh was twelve, his young, female teacher seduced and carried on an affair with him until Josh was accused of attacking a girl and the teacher's molestation was discovered. As this novel opens, Josh, now eighteen, is about to graduate high school, might be going to a good college on a baseball scholarship, and learns that the teacher is about to be released from prison. If all that is not enough, the girl Josh was accused of attacking wants to get back into his life. Using several narrative voices-first person, transcribed therapy sessions, flashbacks-Lyga tackles this incredibly sensitive story with boldness and confidence. He does not shy away from graphic descriptions of Josh's past and even makes the audacious choice of showing young Josh enjoying the attention. Set in the same high school as his first novel, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (Houghton Mifflin, 2006/VOYA October 2006), and featuring younger siblings of some of the characters from that book, this story again captures the lives of high school students with humor and wisdom (sometimes beyond their years). The heartbreaking subject matter is leavened by Josh's intense interest in baseball statistics and an important subplot concerning a baseball game attended by college scouts. Josh is an intelligent young man with an eidetic memory, great athletic skills, loving friends, and a smart therapist. He works hard at healing himself and moving into healthy adulthood, and by the end of this well-written, challenging novel, the reader has high hopes that he will make it.
VOYA - Lucy Freeman
Lyga again skillfully captures the turbulent world of high school in this novel. Expertly woven humor makes the book fun to read, yet it projects a powerful message about growing up at the same time. Some readers may find parts of the book too explicit, but the scenes are important to truly understand the relationships that Josh Mendel has with the people around him. Kudos to Lyga for another incredible read.
Kirkus Reviews
Striking out on a baseball bet forces a teen to face past emotional scars. At age 13, Joshua Mendel's history teacher, Eve Sherman, molested him for three weeks and changed the rest of his life. Five years later, the 18-year-old baseball star is preparing to graduate and working on restoring his damaged relationship with Rachel, a childhood crush. When Sherman is released from prison, Joshua realizes he must confront her in an attempt to gain the answers to the questions that have haunted him for years. Blending present events with extensive flashbacks, Lyga creates a tightly paced narrative that explores psychological turmoil without resorting to either clinical terminology or oversimplification. Authentic and fresh, the narrative voice develops along with Joshua, gaining experience but never overpowering the tortured undertones. Lyga's portrayal of the fight between Joshua and Sherman's husband is riveting and tense; the main character's later reflections on that confrontation are equally powerful. Deftly weaving together a painful confession and ambiguous ending, Lyga's dynamic writing style creates an emotionally wrenching and haunting tale. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher

[S]uccessful...character development...Lyga's cast feels very real, and he knows how to play them against each other. —Booklist, ALA

"Lyga creates a tightly paced narrative...Authentic and fresh...Lyga's dynamic writing style creates an emotionally wrenching and haunting tale." — Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"Lyga again skillfully captures the turbulent world of high school...expertly woven humor...a powerful message."--VOYA, teen reviewer, October 2007 VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

"Heavy stuff, but Lyga...pulls it off brilliantly...Sure to be a controversial and influential read."—KLIATT, September 2007

"Lyga's skillful writing subtly reveals...in a way that older teens will find fascinating, distressing, and worthy of their attention." — School Library Journal, Starred

"[R]eaders drawn by the provocative subject matter may likely find themselves thinking more seriously about the truth behind the ribald humor." — Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Lyga gives a moving account of innocence lost." —Newsday

"[A] astounding portrayal of what it is like to be the young male victim." —The Chicago Tribune

"[R]eaders will be fully engaged." — Library Media Connection

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Sales rank:
720L (what's this?)
File size:
601 KB
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

Read an Excerpt

Ten Things I Learned at the Age of Twelve
1. The Black Plague was transmitted by fleas that were carried throughout Europe by rats.
2. If you first paralyze it, you can cut open a frog and watch its lungs continue to inflate and deflate.
3. There are seven forms of the verb to be: am, being, been, is, was, were, and are.
4. In order to divide fractions, you invert the divisor to arrive at the reciprocal, which is then multiplied by the dividend. (Mixed fractions must first be converted to improper fractions.) 5. In Salem, the witches weren’t burned at the stake—they were pressed to death under big rocks . . . or hanged.
6. Islam was founded in the year 610. It is the third of three world religions worshiping the same God.
7. Each point on a “coordinate plane” (created by the joining of an x-axis and a y-axis) can be described by an ordered pair of numbers.
8. “Monotheism” is a belief system centered on a single deity, while “polytheism” subscribes to belief in multiple deities.
9. The area of a circle can be determined by using the formula pr2, where r is the radius of the circle.
10. How to please a woman.

Meet the Author

Barry Lyga is a recovering comic book geek and the author of many books, including The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, Goth Girl Rising, Boy Toy, and Hero-Type for HMH, Wolverine: Worst Day Ever for Marvel Books, and Archvillian for Scholastic. He has also written comic books about everything from sword-wielding nuns to alien revolutionaries. He worked as marketing manager at Diamond Comic Distributers for ten years. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.Visit Barry online at www.barrylyga.com.

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Boy Toy 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
In BOY TOY, author Barry Lyga takes readers on an incredible journey into a world that, for some, like main character Josh Mendel, is all too real. Josh's life was changed at age twelve when his teacher took the role of educator far beyond the limits of acceptable behavior. Lyga's story does not cut corners or mince words. He is straightforward and direct in telling Josh's story. His graphic descriptions may have earned him criticism, but they have also made his story a powerful one.

Josh Mendel loves baseball. He is a wiz at math. His best friend, Zik, seems to be the one with the rocky home life and all the problems, but not for long.

Mrs. Evelyn Sherman is the new history teacher recently transferred from the local high school to the middle school. She is drop-dead gorgeous. All the boys probably find it a bit embarrassing to stand up and leave the classroom some days. Josh certainly does.

Josh's involvement with Mrs. Sherman begins when she praises his writing and asks him to help her with a project for her graduate class. Honored and excited, Josh is eager to help. Problems at home make staying after school, and later actually going home with Mrs. Sherman, a convenience for Josh and his parents. He begins spending more and more time with her even after her project is complete.

At first, being in Mrs. Sherman's apartment everyday after school is exciting, because Josh gets to play unlimited video games, drink Coke, and hang out with an attentive, beautiful woman. His time in the apartment becomes even more fascinating when Mrs. Sherman begins inviting him to help her cook dinner and sip wine with her. Then kisses begin - tentative and then passionate. The passion moves from petting to full-on sexual experimentation.

Josh is addicted. There are feelings of guilt, but those feelings are outweighed by the incredible physical pleasure Mrs. Sherman offers. Life is spiraling out of control.

The world comes crashing down when Josh finds himself playing spin the bottle with Rachel. He and Rachel have been friends on the baseball field for as long as he can remember, but when Josh's newfound experience turns the innocent teenage game too sexually explicit, Rachel runs screaming to her parents. The "game" is over, and Josh's secret is about to come out in the open.

BOY TOY is not a short romp between the sheets. In fact, it has raised many eyebrows in the world of YA literature. Readers will see exactly what went on with Mrs. Sherman, but they will also see deeply into the world of a young man trying to continue with life, make amends to his friends, and make plans for his future. It has a strong, powerful story to tell, and it tells that story well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Boy was the dust jacket misleading on this one! Thinking to read a light and fluffy story about a young man who is used as arm candy for the socialite girls of a high school, I stepped waist deep into the waters of female teacher to male student molestation. Was it an excellent book? Unquestionably. The story of seduction and the life afterwards is told by Josh Mendel, the victim who takes full responsibility for what an adult did to him when he was twelve years old. This story is not for the faint of heart or the censors who would find the sexual history a little too graphic for comfort. At the end, though, the reader is left breathless by the brutal honesty, but hopeful that the main character is going to be okay. In a day and age of Mary Kaye Le Tourneau and other female predators, this controversial topic is worth reading. Boys are frequently overlooked as the victims of sexual abuse, and this gently probes all of the painful layers that this particular offense affects. I recommend it, though suggest that teachers who want to use it as part of the curriculum do so with caution and much dialogue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All i can say is wow i got hooked from the start ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very good. I couldn't put it down i literally finished in a day! I highly recommend this book, but onlu for older teens and adults. Enjoy!
ReadergirlReviews More than 1 year ago
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga has to be one of the most disturbing but great books I've ever read. The subject matter is unsettling, to say the least, but the way the author handled it amazed me. The fact that this subject was handled so delicately and exertly by a male writer was phenomenal. The story begins with 12 year old Josh carrying a private crush on his History teacher, Eve. Large for his age, Josh is sucked into a very adult and inappropriate relationship with Eve. The truth emerges when Josh attends a birthday party for one of his friends, Rachel, and a game of spin the bottle gets out of hand. Due to his actions in this scenario, Josh's secrets comes out to devastating results. Now, years later, Josh is 17 and about to graduate high school without ever having a normal, healthy relationship, especially not one with a girl his own age. He is angry and hostile, and fights his own inner feelings about Eve, even while battling a growing attraction to the very girl, Rachel, who started the downfall of his affair long ago. Being inside Josh's head as he battles his inner thoughts, desires, guilt, and new feelings is inspiring, unsettling, and at times, very uncomfortable. Although this book is labeled for teens, I would definitely not recommend it for younger teens, as the nature of the subject matter is very adult, and some of the scenes are extremely frank and gratuitous. This story, however, is definitely worth the read. I had a very difficult time putting it down and ended up reading it in one sitting. At the end of the book, you find yourself feeling sad for Josh's discoveries, but also very satisfied for his future.
jessloves2read More than 1 year ago
i had recently read the summary of this book and automatically put it into my shopping cart... i couldn't wait to read it. Once i received it i couldn't put it down. I was getting yelled at back and forth because i wouldn't DARE put the book down. I finished it in a day and a half. I've NEVER in my life read a book so fast. and i read A LOT! I could believe the realness of the book and i truly felt like i was in Josh's mind when reading. I'm so happy i got this book and i would ABSOLUTELY RECOMMEND IT! yeah there some graphic parts in the book so if u can't take detailed sexual situations then i would advise u dont read it, but other then that READ IT!!
packratx More than 1 year ago
Boy Toy tackles some serious subjects and themes, and certain sections are downright uncomfortable. But Lyga handles these difficult issues with dignity and heart, perfectly balancing the severity of the situations with the snarky sarcasm of the characters. It makes you laugh, cringe, and even want to cry...but most of all it makes you think. It's the kind of story that sticks with you long after the book is over, and makes you go back and reread it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is so much to say about this book but i dont know where to start and am left speechless. the story is real and unforgettable with it all coming together in the end leaving you with a haunting feeling for more but not. This isn't a story about the forbidden teacher/student love that many fantisize about, this story is the realism behind what actually goes down between an adult teacher and a young student that you might not have realized was there. Its a great read and i couldn't put it down once i started. it definitely was not what i expected but i would still recommened it to mature readers who love to hear a good story with all the details you wanted to know about a situation like this and all the ones you didn't.
bookwormMA More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this incredible book to avid, mature readers who can bhandle some very risky subjects. I fell in love with this book, and its realistic writing. It felt like I was in the room with Mrs.sherman, and Josh. I was amazed at the subject of this book. It really makes you stop and think about things. I praise the author for writing such a book, because I haven't found one like this before, and I think that it was an important story that needed to be told. It really touched me, and changed my life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i absoulutly loved this book. it was AMAZINGLY written. i finished it in 2 days. i felt like a actually new the characters and it was an amazing story that really brings to light some tough issues to talk about. highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Boy Toy was such an intriguing read. The author is so real and raw, and has a honest concept of what teens actually think and act. When reading this book you almost couldn't believe it. I love how it flips from the past and the present, and in the beggining only gives you tid bits of information, as if daring you to keep reading to find out what REALLY happened. Barry Lyga is a wonderful author, and if you've read The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Gothgirl and enjoyed it, you will like Boy Toy 10X better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm the type of person where if the first page doesn't interest me, I put the book down and never pick it up agian. This was NOT one of those books. It was captivating and riveting, and from the first page, I just couldn't stop reading it. I loved it. I actually felt as if I was watching this whole disaster unfold right in front of me instead of reading about it.I loved it so much, I gave it to my friend, who read it in like 2 days. If you want to read a brilliantly written book, READ HIS BOOK. You won't regret it, I swear!!!
liamrichardquin 3 months ago
The novel Boy Toy does not hold back when it details teenager Josh Mendel’s traumatizing experience. A predatory History teacher. A young man seduced. On the surface, it appears Josh is a victim of a heinous act and is the subject of endless torture brought on by his teacher every day after school. But in Boy Toy, a much more complicated “love” story unfolds between Josh and his teacher, Mrs. Evelyn Sherman, who becomes increasingly attracted to Josh, her student, and convinces him to meet her daily at her apartment for what he initially is told is a personal project of hers that turns into an inappropriate sexual relationship. While this an interesting concept, the beginning exposition that establishes the pair’s relationship starts off slow and features a lot of unnecessary dialogue. These same chapters leading up to the first major event of the book become quickly predictable and leave a feeling of redundancy. Most readers will feel that author could have easily removed these chapters and not taken away anything from the story. The novel switches back and forth between the present, that sees Josh now attending High School, and the past, which sees him recounting his experience with Mrs. Sherman. The reader is also introduced to Rachel, Josh’s childhood friend and arguably one of the best characters of the novel; she is interesting and plays a unique role in how Josh and Evelyn’s relationship plays out. The story’s energy and excitement really begins to pick up when Josh learns that Mrs. Sherman, after being in prison for years for what she did, is going to be released. In a moment of honesty, Josh admits he doesn't know how to feel about her being out of prison; he knows he is expected to feel like a victim, but he can't say he didn't enjoy his time with Mrs. Sherman. This adds a great amount of conflict that keeps the story extremely interesting and, frankly, hard to put down. Other, less significant characters like Josh's therapist are used to move along and orient the story and help make it more real and relatable. Overall, Boy Toy proves to be a distinctly unique read that will keep you turning the pages.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars I was fascinated by the character of Josh in this novel, I felt for him as he tried to understand exactly what was happening to his childhood while others around him thought they had it all figured out for him. Josh was smart for being thirteen and I was surprised how fast his innocence was swept away from him and how weak he became once he was tempted. I really thought he would have considered his future since that was important to him but obviously what was occurring was just too tempting to walk away from. Josh became a victim when his middle school teacher made advances towards him and it wasn’t long before Josh became infatuated with her. No one could know what occurred between Josh and Mrs. Sherman, it was their secret. But it’s all here inside this novel, written down in detail, far more detail than I really needed to know. She educated him inside her classroom and inside her home. Why his parents didn’t figure what was happening baffled me and I was irritated that someone, anyone didn’t have an inkling that something was up between the two of them. Josh also loves baseball but concentrating on baseball and school are just not happening now. Then, there is Rachel. I really liked Rachel, as she patient and considerate. What happens to Rachel and Josh inside the closet reflects on who Josh has become, the person no one knew. The story explodes as Josh tries to remember the promise that he made to Mrs. Sherman. This novel tells of two stories, this story of Josh, a young boy who got taken advantage of by his teacher and another story of this same Josh, who is now eighteen and is ready for graduation and moving forward in his life but having a hard time for his past keeps coming back. Five years later, Mrs. Sherman is slated to be released from prison and you can image what that does to Josh and his family. Hoping for a baseball scholarship for next year to one of his top college choices, Josh is having a hard time keeping his mind on baseball and his coach is not helping things. I wasn’t too fond of the ending; it was too wrapped up, too much sugar for me. For a book like this, it’s okay for me to have some negative feeling hanging, not deep ones but just ones that will take time to heal. It’s a difficult subject to write about and I loved that the author chooses to write about it from a male’s view of point. The details were striking and clear at times making this a novel for only mature individuals.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Josh Mendel has a secret. Except everyone knows what it is. Everyone seems to know what happened five years ago. Everyone seems to think they understand. But no one does. Not really. Years later, Josh is graduating high school soon and still trying to make sense of the pieces left in the aftermath. But with so many broken parts Josh isn't sure any of it--not baseball or Rachel or even closure with Eve--will be enough to make him whole again in Boy Toy (2007) by Barry Lyga. When Josh was 12 his history teacher sexually abused him. Repeatedly. Since then Josh has been haunted by both the abuse itself and the fact that he is certain everyone in his small town knows exactly what happened thanks to Eve's detailed confession. Now 18, Josh is still processing what happened and his own part in moments he'd rather forget. His best friend never asks Josh about what happened. And Rachel, a girl he accidentally frightened shortly before the abuse came to light, suddenly wants to be a part of Josh's life again. Josh still isn't sure what he wants. Chapters alternate between Josh's present and past as he sifts through the beginning of Eve's interest in him, the actual abuse, straight through to the disastrous day his parents found out what had been happening. The dual stories blend together seamlessly to create one complete picture of a broken young man who is still trying to put himself back together. Lyga is an excellent writer and brings a nuanced, unexpected edge to this story of abuse and healing. Boy Toy has some troubling, gritty moments but it is an ultimately compelling must-read. Possible Pairings: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Leverage by Joshua Cohen, Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti, The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman, And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard, Teach Me by R. A. Nelson, Sprout by Dale Peck, Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gorilla res two. Now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Remains chained to the chair by his ankles and wrists. He was wearing only a pair of black briefs. He glanced around the room at the closets full of torture and humiliating things.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow! This book was fantastic! It had me from start to finish, feeling all kinds of different emotions while reading this! Really incredibly messed up story that you just can't look away from it like a car accident! Great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this took me into the real world of rape and it was breathtaking. Lyga didn't tip toe around the subject. He hit it, dead on. Probably my favorite book now <3
Brunsintheoven More than 1 year ago
I wish I could give 4 & 1/2 stars. This book kept me intrigued. Love Barry Lyga's style of writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just loved this book! It's deep, dark, and humorious all in one. I revemend this book to people 12+. You will love it.
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