Someone mentioned BOY TOY by Barry Lyga in comments in someone else's LJ recently. Since I have this addiction to YA written from teen boy POVs, I decided to check it out.
Prior to doing so, I scanned through some Amazon reviews as I am wont to do. I like to read a few gushing reviews and a few scathing ones before (and after) I read something for myself. I want to see what I'm about to encounter. One woman was all over the place in the reviews and comments, talking about how trashy and porny the book is. How inappropriate it is for teens. Which, of course, made me want to read it all the more. I do like me some trashy YA! (As long as it's well-done "trash," I mean.)
I'm not finished reading BOY TOY yet, but I have to say now, I was a little unnerved by the details myself. The book jacket doesn't give much away, but if you've heard anything about it, you'll know that it's about a high school senior who was involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship when he was twelve. The descriptions of the goings-on in those scenes were so, um, vivid. Yes. Vivid. And they started feeling kind of... gratuitous.
I was having a hard time sleeping last night as I tried to imagine why the writer would go there. Apparently my mind was trying to work it out all night because I awoke at 3am sure I knew the answer: I really think Lyga wants you to feel EVERYTHING Josh feels to get the clearest understanding of him and the situation. It really is interesting (in a sick way) to see how it all unfolds. It's like this kid really didn't have a chance even though he felt like he was in control part of the time.
One thing that strikes me about the (few) stories I've read involving children who have been molested and whatnot is that most of those are about someone who has been forced to do something. The victims are clear victims, and they are manipulated into believing the situation is their fault through a variety of subtle and/or overt threats. In BOY TOY, the boy is surely a victim. But he doesn't believe himself to be one most of the time. Because even though he knows what is happening is wrong, it feels good. Sexually and, in some ways, emotionally, he is getting what he honestly wants. He feels guilty and scared, but he blames himself. He feels like the other person involved is only doing what she's doing out of regard for him. (Although it is clear to the reader that she has manipulated that situation so deftly.)
Anyway, like I said, I'm not done reading the book. But I'm so impressed with the honesty of the writing up to this point. It's the most relatable example I've seen of how and why a confused and conflicted adolescence would keep a secret like this that doesn't involve fear of the other person. (I just realized, Melvin Burgess had similar storyline in DOING IT, but his felt a little over-the-top to me whereas this one just seems real. Plus, it did turn scary more than once!)