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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Violence & Scariness
Josh is only 12 when he is sexually molested by his teacher. 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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
This book centers around a character who is sexually molested, but believes he is in a relationship. Josh's sex life with his teacher is graphically described, including oral sex, watching pornography, to very specific descriptions of sexual acts.
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All the big bombs: "f--k," "s--t," and "dick."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Eve drinks and encourages Josh to drink.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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