Back on the road again this week with some actual time to read a book! I elected to bring the new Barry Lyga with me since I adored FAN BOY AND GOTH GIRL. His new book does not disappoint. What it does is amaze, astonish, astound, and generally blow me away.
When he is only 13 years old, Josh's history teacher molests him repeatedly. Eventually, she is sent to jail and Josh to therapy. Five years pass, and things are still far from normal for Josh when Eve, his molester, is released from prison. This knocks Josh for an even bigger loop than the one he has been following. He experiences what he terms as "flickers," flashbacks to that time with Eve. These flickers keep him off kilter and color his relationships with family, friends, and Rachel especially.
The story creates this incredible tension. Will Josh ever be able to live in the moment? To make the flickers stop? To be the friend he longs to be to Zik? To resume some sort of friendship with Rachel? To confront his molester? But there is more to the story. It is not about survival. It is about baseball, adults who should be more trustworthy and yet are not, friendship, love, and forgiveness and redemption. It is also certain to set off fireworks among those who believe that we cannot tell kids the truth in raw and honest chunks. Read it. Hand it to a teen you know will get it. Encourage them to hand it to someone else. Make this a word-of-mouth book that teens will find even when schools hesitate to put it on the shelf.
I feel quite strange (ironic) writing that last sentence in New Orleans, a city that, like Josh, is struggling to make its way back. It is not a simple task. There are too many ways to become overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the task. However, resurrection is possible. Josh discovers that just in time.