By Barry Lyga, Published in 2007
This book follows the development of Josh Mendel as he relieves and faces his past where he was molested by his seventh-grade history teacher. Now, let me tell you: this book is not for the faint of heart. A lot of this book directly relieves those encounters with his teacher, so you might get pretty uncomfortable. This is a book that might be pulled from more conservative shelves, if you know what I mean.
But, that's only part of it. In fact, this level of description is probably intrinsic to the story, and allows you to come to a higher level of understanding with Josh and find a deeper meaning with the novel that would have been lost without this fearless exploration of Josh's past.
Anyway, if this book was to be written at all, I think Barry Lyga was the perfect author to do it. In many parts, I found his writing to be both beautiful and inspiring; he is obviously skilled at his trade and should definitely keep doing what he does best. Take this quote for example, found on page 228-229 ( no spoilers, I promise!)
"See, forgiveness doesn't happen all at once. It's not an event—it's a process. Forgiveness happens while you're asleep, while you're dreaming, while you're in line at the coffee shop, while you're showering, eating, farting, jerking off. It happens in the back of your mind, and then one day you realize that you don't hate the person anymore, that your anger has gone away somewhere. And you understand. You've forgiven them. You don't know how or why. It sneaked up on you. It happened in the small spaces between thoughts and in the seconds between ideas and blinks. That's where forgiveness happens. Because anger and hatred, when left unfed, bleed away like air from a punctured tire, over time and days and years.
Forgiveness is stealth.
At least, that's what I hope."
Just beautiful. When I read this, I stopped just to read it again. I think I love this book. I'll probably go and read his other teen novel, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, right after this. Adults, you're missing out.
The topic in this book was written with undeterred fingers. And it probably wasn't easy to write; it's not often that you get writing that so closely examines something that can be so shocking. However shocking it may be, throughout the novel you can definitely bond with Josh. In this book I could feel his anger, sadness, regret, empathy, love, humor, and everything in between. In short, this book was expertly written with a skilled hand that shouldn't be forgotten in the midst of the topic. As the novel progresses, you see true change and development in Josh that winds up into a truly cathartic and satisfying ending.
To me, this book was worth reading and experiencing. It's definitely worth its salt. It was deft, complex, meaningful, and explored a new path that has left important meaning with Josh, the author, and me. If you give it the chance that it deserves, it can do the same for you.
I rate this book a 5 out of 5. It deserves it. If it could be a food, it's sushi. Something strange and interesting that you've never tried before and curious about. Raw fish might be too much for you to handle, but if you can, it's delicious and totally worth it.