Powerful and unfiltered, this fictional account of a teenage boy's addiction to online pornography is equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful.
The first time a link to a porn video pops up on his computer screen, Lucas is startled. He was simply trying to stream a superhero movie. Transfixed by the scene that unfolds, he experiences his first stirrings of arousal. Lucas soon realizes that he wants to recapture that same excitement, and it's not long before he starts down a path that takes hold of his every thought--day and night.
Only when his secret is revealed and everything comes crashing down around him can Lucas confront his compulsions. But even as feelings of shame overwhelm him, his urges seem impossible to ignore, and interacting with real people is difficult. As Lucas gets help, it becomes clear to him and those around him that he can recover and find a new direction for his life despite this addiction.
With a naive and confused protagonist and multilayered storytelling, this is a no-holds-barred look at a teenage boy falling prey to the world of cybersex, the perils of porn addiction, and the difficult road to recovery for addicts and their loved ones.
An Excerpt fromPoint of View
“Lucas? Are you listening to me? You’d already left when I showed up.”
Lucas looks at his dinner plate. “Well, since you weren’t there,” he mumbles, “I came home from tennis with Benjamin.”
“On his scooter?” his mother asks, annoyed. “Did you go there with him too? I’ve already told you that I don’t want you riding on those things. I promised to pick you up. I may have been a little late, but I gave you a heads-up. Didn’t you get my text?”
Lucas shrugs. “My battery died,” he says.
His father lets out an irritated sigh. “Why do we bother paying for your phone plan? It’s the fifth time this week that we’ve sent you a text, and each time you tell us that you didn’t receive it. Once, because your battery died; another time because you couldn’t remember where you’d put the phone. I don’t believe a word of it. You’re too hooked to that thing.”
His father furrows his brows and realizes that it’s been a while since he’s seen Lucas with his cell phone in hand. It had escaped him until now because he’s just as guilty of checking Twitter at the dinner table. Like his son, he’s often present without really being there.
“Say, where exactly is your smartphone?” he asks.
Lucas makes grooves on the plate of mashed potatoes getting cold in front of him. All three of them are sitting in the dining room that opens onto the living area, where a giant flat-screen TV broadcasts soundless images of some war, from somewhere in the world.
His father splatters a little sauce on the tablecloth that his mom took the trouble to spread over the Ikea table.
“Could you be more careful, Sebastian! It’s going to get stained,” Marie snaps at him.
“Sorry.” He considers Lucas and says, “Don’t tell me it was stolen again?”
“Well . . .”
This time Sebastian looks at his son closely.
“What do you mean, ‘Well’? And stop thinking about how you’re going to answer me. Yes or no? It’s not complicated.”
“It froze up. I need to reboot it.”
“Now you tell us!” his mom says, rolling her eyes. “What took you so long? How have you lasted so many days without your precious phone? What an achievement!”
Lucas lowers his fork next to the cold mashed potatoes.
“Very funny, Mom,” he says.
Sebastian bangs the table with his fist.
“Please don’t use that tone to answer your mom. And you’re going to wipe your cell phone right after dinner. I’m not paying your bill for nothing.”
“Come on, Dad. It’s not the end of the world. I think the phone’s dead. Might as well buy a new phone, or a tablet, since I don’t have one.”
“Let’s try resetting it, right now,” Sebastian says, getting up from the table and nodding toward the stairs that lead to Lucas’s bedroom. “I’m really fed up with your lousy attitude.”
“Can’t we finish eating?” Marie protests in vain.
Lucas thinks he’s got caricatures of adults in front of him.
It’s too late. The scene degenerates into a confrontation between an alpha male and a young wolf.
“Let’s go!” his father commands.
Annoyed, Lucas pushes his plate away. He follows his father, dragging his feet like a condemned man shuffling to the guillotine. Cuddles, the three-legged cat, limps after them. He purrs as he rubs himself against Lucas’s shins. Lucas’s look of guilt doesn’t escape his dad.
“You’re hiding something from me,” Sebastian says as he opens the door of his son’s room.
Aside from the general disarray, the sour-smelling room in no way resembles that of a typical teenager. There’s nothing at all on the walls. The wooden beams are painted white, just as Lucas wanted them. There’s merely an unmade bed, all topsy-turvy. Dirty socks strewn on the floor. Bunched-up clothes. Mismatched sneakers tossed every which way. Cuddles’s cat bed, which he scorns in favor of Lucas’s jumbled comforter, and onto which he hops with surprising agility for a maimed animal. His spotlessly clean litter box.
A printer rests on the floor, along with a dresser, its open drawers overflowing with T-shirts and pants. There isn’t even enough tech equipment for it to be the bedroom of a geek. Only a lamp and school stuff and three empty bottles of Coke.
“It stinks in here,” his dad says, frowning. “Don’t you ever open the windows?”
He turns to Lucas and tousles the greasy hair plastered to his son’s head. Lucas immediately steps back.
“And do you shower from time to time?” his dad asks. “You actually stink. Just because you spend hours in front of your laptop doesn’t mean that you don’t sweat.”
His eyes suddenly rest on the table where the laptop lies dark, not even in screensaver mode.
“Are you suddenly worried about the environment? Since when do you shut off your computer?”
His father doesn’t like wasting electricity. It’s a matter of conviction. He’s ecology-minded and hates it when computers stay continually powered up.
Without waiting for Lucas’s response, he adds: “Okay, let’s turn it back on.”
Since his son doesn’t move, he steps purposefully toward the computer. The motion snaps Lucas out of his lethargy.
“Wait, Dad. It crashed too,” he says.
Sebastian freezes. “It’s like a plague. What exactly have you been doing?”
“Nothing. I don’t know. It must have gotten a virus.”
“Did you download movies on a streaming site recently?”
“Well . . . maybe. I don’t remember.”
The half confession gets a hint of a smile out of Sebastian. He puts a hand on his son’s shoulder. Lucas shakes it off in annoyance.
“It’s not a big deal, Lucas. It happens to all of us. Even me. But you should be careful. You know what? Tomorrow, I’ll take your computer and smartphone to work. Jerome will fix whatever needs fixing and he’ll install a hacker-proof firewall. We should have done that long ago.”
Sebastian goes to take the computer but Lucas blocks his way.
“It’s not necessary, Dad. I can take care of it myself.”
“So why haven’t you done that, then? You spend your nights in front of your computer, your days on your cell phone, and suddenly you’re not interested? What’s the problem?”
“I already asked a friend. He’s really glad to help me. He’ll be disappointed if--”
“That’s enough. I don’t work at a computer firm for nothing. Even if I’m only in sales, I’m not an idiot. For both your smartphone and computer to have crashed at the same time means there’s got to be a big bug. There are competent people at work who can deal with this. Jerome, for one, and he’ll be happy to help. End of discussion.” He goes around Lucas to grab hold of the laptop. “And give me your phone too.”