Monday, February 04, 2008

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser

I read this because it is being compared to Boy Toy by Lyga. Both books contain a relationship between a boy and a female teacher many years older. In Boy Toy the kid was manipulated by the teacher to believe he was in love with her. He was led to believe that the feelings he was experiencing were true love. The teacher admitted wrong doing and was punished. The boy was traumatized and unable to have a normal relationship with a female for many years after.

Boot Camp is a nasty place of last resort to which parents send their kids who they see as out of control and themselves unable to stop the kids from destroying family, jobs, themselves. Garrett is a brainiac who falls in love with a teacher. Its his move on her. She is fired but not prosecuted as mother's job requires that nothing nasty hit the media. When Garrett starts skipping school, stealing his parents money, smoking pot, staying overnight with the lover, no longer teacher and refusing to listen to his parents they send him to boot camp. Garrett says that since he has great grades and great SAT test results and will be going to an ivy league college as his parents wish, he should be able to do whatever he wants. Parents should have given the kid a little slack, kid should not have done all that he did. Both are wrong, and right.

At boot camp, kids are brutalized, indoctrinated, controlled until they passively submit. Garrett compares the brainwashing to Hitler's tactics. The school gets results but at great cost. Garrett and two kids make a daring escape but when it appears that two people will die as a result of their actions Garrett separates from the others to rescue them with truly tragic results for him. There really are boot camps of last resort filled with kids whose parents saw them as hopelessly out of control. Perhaps parents believe that placing them in such a camp is "tough love." In writing this book Strasser tries to expose their true nature. I have seen television shows on this subject as well. I wonder why they continue to exist and what alternative a parent with a truly out of control kid (as Garret was not) has.
JDW 2/5/08

No comments: