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The Stone Boys - Book Review

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

*This book contains sensitive material. Parental guidance recommended.

Book Name: The Stone Boys

Author: Michael Gurian

Rating: 5/5

What you should know:

*Upfront, you should know this book has sexual trauma scenes. The scenes are not detailed, and absolutely necessary for the story. That being said, if you’re highly triggered by childhood (or otherwise) sexual trauma, this book may not be for you.

**There is a Discussion Guide in the back with relevant questions that are thought-provoking and are sure to get the conversation going. This while seemingly small, adds so much to the value of this book because it allows people to talk about situations like this in an open dialogue way.


The Stone Boys was a shock to the system in all the best ways. I have been searching for books that talk about the depth of human interaction beyond just the “positive vibes,” diving into the chasms of human evil from various perspectives. Evil doesn’t go away just because you don’t want to talk about it. The author says it best; “Sexual trauma needs honesty - not gratuitousness, of course, but honesty.” Michael Gurian has done well in this fact-based fiction to help people understand how serious childhood sexual trauma can be, and how the victims, and sometimes the perpetrators, feel.

I have nothing but good things to say about this novel. The bravery it took to take a leap of vulnerability this huge by publishing a book about sexual trauma is admirable. There were definitely moments where my heart sat in my throat like a too-big-bite in a dry mouth. My empathy for everyone involved in this book was so immense. I caught myself feeling like I was one of the boys hanging out in the basement just talking. I felt the shame and guilt and fear as if I was right there along for the ride, just watching but doing nothing to stop any of it.

The Stone Boys is a story about two boys who meet and despite some clear differences, feel like kindred spirits. They both clutch onto the friendship for the summer. As the summer goes on we get to know the boys, they open up and share some dark history they’ve been too afraid to admit to anyone else. Gurian expertly leads us through the inner-feelings of two teen boys going through trying times together. Revenge gets the best of them. They get themselves into trouble and struggle to find the right thing to do. I couldn’t have guessed how it all turned out.

Reading, I felt like the author understood what we are trying to do here at Villain Esteem, that you can have dark things happen to you. You can even do dark things, but if you accept yourself, and learn your strengths and weaknesses, you can use them to the best of your ability. Two boys, two outcomes, both made their own choices.

I rate The Stone Boys 5 out of 5. My socks were knocked off! This book took me no time at all to read, when I was able to sit down to it, that is. Even while taking notes, I felt like I was soaring through the pages, and though excited to get through the book, I found myself wishing it wouldn’t end. I do hope Gurian writes a follow-up novel about each character and how they turned out, and possibly alternate endings? *Wink, wink ;)

I agree with Micheal in his Q & A in the back of the book when asked what age group would the book be suitable for, he answered; “Some mature twelve-year-old readers will likely read it, but parental or teacher guidance out to be required for that tender age. ...The book ought to be read with the intention of asking adults questions about what might be confusing.” Gurian wrote with the male audience in mind. Expanding past that, I believe this book is great for any age or gender. Sexual trauma, let alone childhood sexual trauma is not often talked about. It’s a darker subject that many are fearful to face. Not only because many either share experiences, or know someone who has, but also because the scrutiny that can possibly come with speaking up is intimidating. I applaud Mr. Gurian for his audacity in pushing forward with publishing despite the naysayers. The world needs more people who are willing to speak up and help others understand the seriousness at hand.

I have nothing negative to say about this book. I believe all people should read it even if only to become more rounded in understanding how the world can work.

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To Purchase

Go to Latah Books and use code VillainEsteem at checkout for a 30% off! This code is not limited to this book in their store, but you should definitely have this one in your cart.

Read our review of The Primal Method. A book also by Latah Books.

Ways to Read in Quarantine:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Funds go to furthering the reach of Mental Health.

Amazon says:

New York Times bestselling author of The Wonder of Boys

"(Michael Gurian) convincingly illustrates . . . the peculiar pain and potential loneliness of

being a boy in America today."

--Time Magazine

When Ben Brickman and Dave McConnell learn of each other’s hidden sexual abuse trauma, they decide to confront their demons by abducting a dangerous high school bully. After their plan for revenge takes a shocking turn, the boys must grapple with good and evil and what it means to be a man.

Drawn in part from the author's personal experience as a sexual abuse survivor, The Stone Boys is a both a dramatic page-turner and a profoundly emotional read. Arriving as our society contends with a crisis of childhood sexual abuse, The Stone Boys is not only timely and courageous -- but the first of its kind.

Praise for The Stone Boys:

"Gripping . . . An example of gritty realism. Recommended for mature students."

--School Library Journal

“Gurian incorporates autobiographical elements into a story built not around easy answers but anguished inner arguments . . . of use for discussing the cycle of abuse.”

--Kirkus Reviews

"A uniquely powerful novel by one of America's leading experts on the subject of boys. Protagonist Ben Brickman's journey to deal with his deepest emotions is relentlessly and authentically written . . . unforgettable."

--Terry Trueman, Printz Honor Author of Stuck in Neutral

“The Stone Boys is unlike any other YA novel . . . a page turner . . . it can lead to discussions about any trauma one is dealing with.”

--Tina Reed,

The Stone Boys makes it safe for boys to deal with experiences and topics not usually verbalized. This book will be part of their shaping journey to becoming good men.”

--Gregory Jantz, Ph.D., founder of The Center, A Place of Hope, and author of Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse

"Michael Gurian masterfully tackles this difficult subject as he portrays the awkwardness, confusion, and shame the two boys endure . . . This is an important book that should be read and discussed by boys and men, and by anyone who loves a boy or a man."

--Barbara Mulvey Little, Author of The Secrets Underneath

"The Stone Boys dives deep into the trauma of bullying and abuse and comes out just as our culture is taking the lid off the pain too many have buried for too long. Compelling and profound."

--Pastor Tim Wright, Community of Grace Lutheran Church

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Funds go to furthering the reach of Mental Health.

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1 Comment

I can't wait to read this book. As a sexual assault survivor, I find that books that talk about the topic help me to heal even more. Thank you for sharing.

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