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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book is about a boy who is molested by his teacher; Eve tricks Josh into believing they are in love even though he is only 12. Their sex life is graphically described, including depictions of oral sex and the watching of a pornographic film. Their relationship is discovered after Josh attacks a girl in a closet during a teen party. Josh is later beaten up by Eve's husband. The book also features language that is as mature as its subject matter.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
This book centers on a high school senior named Josh who, at only 12, was sexually abused by his attractive female history teacher. Through a long flashback, readers see how Eve slowly manipulates Josh into a sexual relationship, making him believe they really love each other.
Now Eve is getting out of jail, but Josh is still dealing with the trauma -- he's not only afraid to pursue girls, he also has bouts of violence and moments where he zones out uncontrollably. Additionally, Josh begins to worry that he will run into Eve in public.
Is it any good?
Better plotting and character development make this second book more intense, more disturbing, and ultimately more memorable than the first. Lyga again centers his novel on a messed-up teen boy protagonist and even sets the story at the same high school he created for his popular debut, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. Readers may be drawn in by a scintillating premise, but they will quickly feel sickened as Josh is easily and expertly manipulated by his teacher into a sexual relationship he is much too young for. They will find it easy to empathize with Josh, who even years later is traumatized by Eve's sexual molestation; Lyga carefully draws out Josh's flaws, from his violent tendencies to his fears of intimacy to his paranoia that everyone around him knows what has happened to him -- and that Eve could reappear at any moment.
There is no doubt that this is a mature book, from the subject matter to the language. But Lyga shows great respect for his audience and doesn't go the sensationalistic route. He writes in specific detail about Eve and Josh's sex life, but he also reveals Josh's vulnerability, presenting intimate conversations between Josh and his therapist, or between him and the girl who wants to be his girlfriend. This level of detail makes the story feel very real and makes Josh's pain very palpable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about where ideas for books might come from. The premise for this book, for example, seems very similar to some recent news stories about female teachers molesting their young students. Can you think of any other books that were derived from headlines? Why can news stories make good plot lines?