A Point of View on ‘Point of View’

From Publishers Weekly:

When I’m prepping for a sales call we pull all the ARCs for that list and set them up in piles like mini skyscrapers. I start at the roof and have a look through each floor of the continually shrinking building until we are back down to the foundation which, in an inspired architectural stroke, was crafted to resemble a wooden stool.

I was going through the Random House fall piles last week when a book in the pile brought me up short, Point of View by Patrick Bard. The tagline was “Addicted to Porn. Powerless to Stop. Until…”  My first thought was, “Wow, that was bold.” My second thought was twofold. Could I put this out in the store without incident? (We’ll return to that shortly.) Would school libraries bring it in? My third thought was “Is it good?” Which is the nub of the matter.

A local high school librarian I queried addressed  that point succinctly. “In the end it will be all about whether or not it is done well. I probably wouldn’t buy it for our library, mostly because I don’t think kids would choose it. They would assume if we had that book at school it must be a morality tale and not realistic, plus there’s the embarrassment factor of even having it around teachers and peers. I’m always hesitant of the “first of its kind” book on any trending issue because it seems like publishers usually have to make a few mistakes before they get it right. On that topic you would have to walk a very fine line between realistic (but not sensational) and helpful (but not scolding).”

Other librarians I spoke with had the same reaction. This was a topic that would require threading the needle. It had to be done well. I read Point of View and found that the book is exactly the book my school partners thought it had to be. It is well written, not preachy, realistic without being gratuitous, grounded and not sensational, well researched, compact and compelling. The author, Patrick Bard, is a well established, award-winning French author who has never been translated into English before.

. . . .

The story follows Lucas, a young teen, who is searching for a superhero video clip online, hits a porn link, and falls down the rabbit hole. When his virus-ridden laptop is given over for repair, Lucas is exposed. The story explores the perspectives of Lucas’s parents as well, in a tough, unsentimental manner. With all his devices taken away, his physical health in the toilet, and while being driven to a clinic, Lucas literally jumps out of a speeding car. He enters the clinic recovering from injuries of many kinds.

Bard researched his story extensively, talking to teenagers and teachers, clinicians, anthropologists, and psychologists. In his author’s note Bard states, “Lucas is the hero of Point of View. On the outside, he seems like an average teenage geek. At least that’s what his parents believe him to be. But once his outline addiction to porn is revealed, his virtual world crumbles, and so does he. He’s got a long, hard journey to being a whole person again. As I wrote this book, I did not want to make judgments. I have not judged Lucas. I have not judged his parents. I have not judged any of the characters. I merely want readers to have empathy for Lucas and be aware that help and recovery are possible.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

4 thoughts on “A Point of View on ‘Point of View’”

  1. So the parents find out about your addiction, take away your electronics and the reaction is to jump out of a car. And I’m supposed to relate to this story and call him a hero?

    Next your going to tell me the kid who is in the shopping line that cries and yells because he doesn’t get his candy bar who then tries to hang himself is also my hero.

    I don’t know if this is based on real life, i would find it more ironic if the jumping out of the car would have ended his life. That seems more poetic to me. Loose your phone, have an overreaction, and win a Darwin award!!! That’s the only award this ‘hero’ would deserve in my humble opinion.

  2. Personally, I believe a writer’s first mission is to write an entertaining story. Human beings are all about story. We are addicted, we are a story, our lives are stories. If we learn something; good. If not, an entertaining writer has still performed an act of mercy.

  3. Leaping from a moving vehicle is a “realistic” reaction to being disciplined with all of Lucas’s electronics taken away? Boggles the mind, but then I didn’t grow up in the Always Connected Era we have now, so I suppose Lucas retreating into electronics-free pastimes to assuage his depression and disappointment and endure his punishment while his physical health recovered would have seemed too tame a reaction for this author to depict.

    And, personally, I’d find this very preachy (“Porn is BAD for you!”), and judgmental on the MC (“Attempted suicide is the only way to go after falling into such a sordid life.”), and, yes, sensational.

  4. I suspect your librarians are dead wrong here. Any book with a tagline of “Addicted to porn” is going to be seized upon by teenagers, particularly teenage boys. And their parents will rise up in wrath (without bothering to read the book first).

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