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SUMMARY: This sequel to Fake ID finds 16-year-old Chastity and her mother hoping to make normal lives for themselves in San Francisco. They are still pursued by a powerful, menacing figure from the past who is determined to reclaim a tape recording that proves him guilty of murder. Chass is a talented singer who dreams of having her own band. She witnesses, and is implicated in, the drive-by shooting of a famous young musician. Soon she is drawn into the dark underworld of a secret society that might have something to do with the crime. Teens with an interest in music will especially enjoy this suspenseful, action-packed thriller. (from the School Library Journal review)
OPINION: I enjoyed Fake ID, and was eagerly awaiting this sequel to find out what happens to Chass. This book was not quite as believable as the first one, but the story is fast-paced and very mysterious. And I loved the band Chass put together, especially the bass player. (She has a killer attitude and drives like a maniac!) The activities of the creepy secret club in this book seem worse than any frat initiation, and the mind games they play are outrageous. You will be kept guessing until the very end, and entertained by pages of car chases, narrow escapes, and dangerous situations along the way. If page-turning thrillers are your genre, this is a book for you. But read Fake ID first, if you haven't already!
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Reviews by Kara, Alexa, Caitlin C., and Gretchen
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KARA SAYS: Boy Toy is the story of Josh Mendel, a teenage boy who had been sexually abused by a female teacher when he was twelve. He is insecure and feels that everyone around him knows and judges him about it. To add to the pressure is the fact that his abuser has been released from jail. The book starts with Josh as a senior in high school, hoping to get into top colleges and being a star baseball player. A reunion with Rachel, a girl he had “almost raped” when they were thirteen and hadn’t spoken to since brings up all new emotions for him. Josh tells Rachel about the details of his abuse and his abuser: his history teacher, Eve. Josh goes into extreme detail about his experience and the aftermath. The rest of the book is dedicated to Josh trying to deal with all the new problems that face him: having Rachel back in his life, prom, choosing colleges, important baseball games, the possibility of seeing Eve again, trying to survive the end of senior year, and attempting to live a relatively normal life.
I thought that Boy Toy was very well written. It was the first book I had ever read dealing with the subject of child sexual abuse. I was surprised by the extreme detail used in the description of the abuse, but it did make it seem realistic. Some changes should be made, such as when Josh told his whole story in one sitting. I think there should have been some breaks in the narration to build suspense and make it more realistic. I also think that Josh’s relationship with Rachel moved a bit too fast. I feel that Rachel should have taken her time reuniting with Josh considering the circumstances and the way Josh acted. I would recommend this book for mature readers only because of the subject manner and details describing it. Overall, it was a very interesting read and shows Barry Lyga’s versatility as a writer.
ALEXA SAYS: Boy Toy, Barry Lyga's newest book, is an incredibly well-written story about a graduating high school boy finally dealing with a very large issue that is presently becoming more and more popular in the United States. In 7th grade, Mrs. Sherman, Josh's history tracher, lured Josh to her apartment every day for months, disguising the visits with a fake grad class project, and ending them by molesting him. As the end of the novel unfolds, it is revealed that she even made Josh think he seduced her, but through flashbacks--and flickers--Josh learns the truth. With such a tragic past, Josh struggles with relationships--except for his best friend Zik, who is always there and never pushes for information about what happened. Rachel, who Josh almost raped because he knew no better, has been out of Josh's life and wants back in ... but is Josh ready?
I recommend Boy Toy to anyone who enjoys stories about love and difficult truths. Boy Toy has become one of my all-time favorite books. I like the set-up of the book, which is about 100 pages of the story in present-day, then 100 pages of flashback, 100 more pages of present-day, 100 pages of other flashback, and it finishes out with an ending in the present. The story incoropates a lot of issues that I am dealing with, like college choices, friends, and sports, so I can relate well to it.
CAITLIN C. SAYS: This book forces you to think about a dozen different issues. Not only do you read the thoughts of Josh the high-school senior, you also see what went through his twelve-year-old head when he was with Eve, along with all the other characters putting in their two bits about the experience. When you finally think you have an opinion about the scandal, you’re forced to rethink it because Josh changes his mind many times over throughout the course of the story. It’s not just the sex scandal that has you confused either. During and after, the reader will be asking him or herself, “What is love? What is maturity? How do you define being mature? Who was Cal Ripken anyway?” You’re taken for a ride as everything you thought you believed is chewed up and spit back onto a bubble gum wrapper, and you don’t mind one bit.
Suffice it to say, I enjoyed this book. People can be absorbed by a good book so that they can’t stop talking about it, but few have ever been haunted by a book. Boy Toy was my literary poltergeist for the past few days, and it refused to leave me alone until I sat down for a few hours and finally finished it. There didn’t seem to be any spelling errors and the language was fluid and clear, but it all could’ve been in pig Latin for all I would have noticed. I’m not sure when or even if I’ll be haunted by another book, but if it ever occurs again, I’ll instantly think of Boy Toy. After all, they say you never forget your first time.
GRETCHEN SAYS: Boy Toy is definitely a departure from Fanboy and Goth Girl, but high schoolers will appreciate Josh's authenticity as a character. He is realistically struggling with social and psychological issues, even as he gets on with his own life of sports, and school. Although Boy Toy tackles the very current subject of sexual abuse, it should not be relegated to the pile of teen problem novels. I think showing Josh as a senior in high school looking back on the events of his seventh grade year makes the story more realistic and less voyeuristic. The detail in the flashbacks is somewhat graphic, but I don't think it was gratuitous. Boy Toy is a very honest telling of how victims are affected by abuse over time. Josh is a believable character, and readers will forgive the length of his flashbacks to find out more about his current life, including his fledgling relationship with Rachel, his performance on the baseball diamond, and his feelings about the release of his abuser from jail.
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Click on the book cover to find out which libraries have Love, Stargirl on the shelf. You can have a copy sent to our library...just click the "Request" icon, type in your name and library card number, select our library for pick up, and wait for a phone call!
1. Stargirl ends with an epilogue 15 years in the future, yet Love, Stargirl starts right after she moves away. How did you try to reconcile the plot of Love, Stargirl with the ending you had already written? Did you have any difficulties? Do you have any plans to write a third book about Leo or Stargirl that would tie the two together?
Terrific question, as it zeros in on a writer’s issue. When I ended Stargirl I had no intention of ever doing a sequel. Five years later I had a problem. Having decided to portray Stargirl the following year, what do I do with Leo, who, as you say, apparently doesn’t see her for quite a few years after Stargirl ends? I would just say that I tried to turn this “problem” to my advantage and to tell the story in a way that’s not too predictable.
Though there probably won’t be another Stargirl book, for a hint to what lies in the future for them, I refer you to the last page of Stargirl. Obviously, if Leo receives a porcupine necktie in the mail, Stargirl knows where he lives. We can assume she’s got an eye on him and that they are about to meet again.
2. Stargirl is written as a narrative from Leo’s point of view, while Love, Stargirl is written as a diary from Stargirl’s point of view. The books are very different because of this. Which storytelling style do you like better for these characters? Or does the story work better when told from both points of view?
Since . . . I could not have Stargirl and Leo physically interact, I thought a letter/journal format would be the next best way to bring them “together.” I added imagined conversations between Stargirl and Leo to further promote a sense of real-time interaction. Of course, when you tell any story in first person, you’re limited to what your narrator knows and sees.
3. Stargirl is incredibly different than the average teen, and there isn’t anyone like her in other books for teens. How did you come up with the idea for a character like Stargirl? Do you know any real-life Stargirls?
[My wife] Eileen comes closest to being a model for the character. Some things that Stargirl does I lifted right from Eileen’s personal history.
Not only could Stargirl exist today—she does exist. She may not resemble Susan Caraway point by point, but across the country and the world, girls with her spirit and heart and humanity dance and laugh and love among us all. As for fitting in, maybe the question should be, Could a “normal” school fit in with Stargirl?
4. In Love, Stargirl, Stargirl collects a lot of unlikely and unusual friends. How did you manage to make these characters interesting without making them unrealistic?
Stargirl evolved over 30 years. Others may come overnight. It varies. I seldom try to transplant a whole, real person onto the page, but in one way or another, real people—often combinations of them—are always part of a character’s fabric. As for making them real, I simply report in detail the results of one of my favorite pastimes: people-watching.
Stargirl is not an age bigot. She’s attracted to all interesting people, not age levels. She appreciates humanity in any color, size, nationality, age, whatever. Remember Archie said: “She’s an earthling if there ever was one.”
5. At the beginning of Love, Stargirl, she says, “I love beginnings. If I were in charge of calendars, every day would be January 1.” If you were in charge, what day would you like to celebrate more often?
Fourth of July. I’d like to have it twice a year. I love fireworks and marching bands.
6. If you could talk to Stargirl, what would you ask her?
Are you ever bored? Do you wear your seatbelt? What scares you most? Do you think you’re pretty? Do you care? Do you think you’ll ever see Leo again?
7. Do you celebrate the Solstice or other natural events?
I love astronomy, and the Solstice is an astronomical event. Beyond that, when Eileen first suggested I write a little holiday gift-type book about Stargirl, an early thought was to focus it on Christmas. From there it was a short step to swing that focus to something less specifically religious and more broadly natural. Stargirl and Solstice felt like the right match.
8. What is your experience with homeschooling?
Our daughter-in-law, Marina, homeschools five of our grandchildren.
9. If you could change your name, what would you want to be called?
Congratulations! That’s the hardest question I’ve ever gotten. It took me 30 years to settle on the name for the main character in the book that finally came to be called Stargirl. So you’ll have to give me at least that long to come up with a name for myself. In the meantime, I’ll tell you that in college I tried to get my fraternity brothers to call me Weasel, but it didn’t stick. As I note in Maniac Magee, you can’t give yourself a nickname; it’s what the world wants to call you. Of course, “Stargirl” is not a mere nickname.
10. Are there any plans to make a movie of Stargirl or Love, Stargirl? Would you like to see her on the big screen?
Stargirl is already under option for film. Last month the announcement was on page one of Hollywood Reporter. And yes, I would like to see it happen, especially if it turns out to be good.
11. Do you have plans to write sequels to any other of your stand-alone books? What new projects are you working on?
No, I’m not planning any more sequels . . . Love, Stargirl will be in the bookstores in August. And it won’t be alone—also on the shelves will be a companion Stargirl Journal. In September, I’ll cross the country on a book tour for those two. In the spring, Smiles to Go will come out. And right now, I’m working on a nonfiction book co-authored with my wife and fellow writer, Eileen.
12. Are any of your book characters based on real people?
Eileen comes closest to being a model for the character. Some things that Stargirl does I lifted right from Eileen’s personal history. I would say I’m not Leo as much as Eileen is Stargirl, but there certainly is some of me in Leo.
13. Which of your books are you most proud of? Do your children or grandchildren have any favorites?
My personal favorite is my first published book: Space Station Seventh Grade. But “proud of” is a little different. For that I might say Maniac Magee. If the grandkids have particular favorites, they haven’t told me.
Jeff talking to the group.
Storytime! Jeff read the first chapter aloud to the group.
People wait in line to get their books signed.
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Everyone was concentrating!
Beautiful dresses on some of my favorite readers!