Or, just the first chapter. . . or, well, maybe two. Two chapters, tops.
You know how this ends, right? Like that Alka-Seltzer commercial from the seventies: I can't believe I ate the whole thing. Except, I didn't eat it. It was a signed copy, after all.
The basic gist: 18-year-old Josh hasn't seen his 7th grade teacher, Eve, since the trial that sent her to prison after she initiated a sexual relationship with him when he was 13. Now she's out of prison and Josh finds himself finally dealing with emotions and guilt that he'd been burying for five years.
We see the story through three filters: 13-year-old Josh's in the flashbacks, 18-year-old Josh's as he narrates the story, and the reader-filter that allows us to understand things in a way that neither version of Josh is able to see. This balance is crucial, because neither of Josh's perspectives are what an adult would call "true," and yet they are what makes the story believable.
I'm not explaining this very well. Let me find an example.
Here's a flashback to the early parts of Josh's relationship with his teacher, when she first started having him over to her apartment after school. She always had a glass of wine after school, and this was the first time he had accepted her offer to try a sip.
She looked serious all of a sudden. "But really, Josh--you can't tell your parents I let you do this, OK? I could get in a lot of trouble."So we get the 13-year-old voice ("puh-lease"), the 18-year-old memory ("I wasn't going to tell my parents anyway") and we view this scene with knowledge that Josh hasn't internalized: that this woman was grooming him, the way sexual predators do, easing him into keeping secrets from his parents.
Over a little sip of wine? Puh-lease. But whatever--I wasn't going to tell my parents anyway. "Don't worry about it."(Boy Toy, Barry Lyga, p. 150)
The bulk of the story isn't about what happened when Josh was 13, though, it's about what happens when he's 18, mentally preparing himself for college away from home and figuring out the kind of adult he wants to be. It also goes into fairly explicit sexual details, so, while the voice and the story will appeal to teens, I consider it to be an adult novel (knowing that teens are perfectly capable of reading and appreciating adult novels, including this one).
Would you like to have my signed copy of Boy Toy? Drawing will be June 30. (It was July 1, but I want to mail it out on the 2nd so I've decided to do the drawing on the 30th)
The Soundtrack: I nearly rejected Salt n Pepa's Boy Toy, because although it shares a title with the book, I can hardly bear to listen to it. But then I read this deleted scene on Barry's website, on which he says Josh has terrible taste in music. It seems fitting to choose a song I wouldn't listen to if I found it on Josh's Ipod.
Publication Info: 2007, Houghton Mifflin. Available in hardcover and paperback.