Author: Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Publisher: St Martin’s Press (St. Martin's Griffin)
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Format: Paperback* 240 pages
Rating: 3/5 stars
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Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, just the two of them against the world. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, bringing home the next stepfather. Anna is left on her own—until she discovers that she can make boys her family. From Desmond to Joey, Todd to Sam, Anna learns that if you give boys what they want, you can get what you need. But the price is high—the other kids make fun of her; the girls call her a slut. Anna's new friend, Toy, seems to have found a way around the loneliness, but Toy has her own secrets that even Anna can't know.
Then comes Sam. When Anna actually meets a boy who is more than just useful, whose family eats dinner together, laughs, and tells stories, the truth about love becomes clear. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose—and something to offer. Real, shocking, uplifting, and stunningly lyrical, Uses for Boys is a story of breaking down and growing up.
Uses for Boys starts off with a young girl remembering the life she had with her mother, when it was just the two of them and all her mother ever needed was her. As Anna grows up, the more her mother is gone. She no longer becomes everything her mother needs. Anna is left to grow up on her own. From there, we follow Anna jumping from guy to guy looking for the love and affection she has been lacking all her life.
I thought Uses for Boys had an interesting and unique summary with even beautiful cover that really caught eye. I was eager to read and get my hands on such a book. I didn’t know what to except when going into this novel, but I surely didn’t expect to feel such turmoil and sadness for the main character. Erica Lorraine Scheidt wrote a novel that will surely capture an audience’s attention and have readers wishing for something more for Anna.
Anna was searching for herself, for love and a real family that her mother couldn’t give her. She thought she could find it in boys, but she continued to make wrong decisions and poor judgments. Her situation overall just really sucked. At first it was really hard to connect with Anna. I felt like she was in a haze the entire time and she was a little detached. But along the way, I got to know her and feel for her. Her innocence and her need for love was sad and made me pity her. I was able to sympathize with Anna immensely. I wanted to give her that love and connection she needed. I adored how Anna shopped at thrift stores and at Goodwill and was able to take those clothes and make it into a stylish outfit that made her stand out and be different. Although she was alone, she made herself into someone who was independent. She was able to become someone more than the girl in her mother’s story.
The other characters in this book didn’t stand out as much as I would have liked them to, but in a way this worked out for the best. This was Anna’s story that needed to be told. We do get glimpses of each relationship Anna was in and we see how they treat her, how she treats them, and ultimately how they just don’t work. When Anna finally meets Sam, someone who has a wonderful family life, Anna begins to see and open her eyes. Her relationship with Sam slowly builds up into something real, into something she has always wanted. It’s beautiful and it’s right.
The ending of the book leaves you hanging and questioning Anna’s future. There is no resolution and it left you to wonder with your own imagination. Nothing is really explained and when Anna gets her epiphany moment, I hoped for more. Although I felt this way, I think the open-ending fits the story. Giving it something different may have taken away from the truth.
The writing in Uses for Boys was the driving force that kept me going in the book. Erica Scheidt style was different, something I wasn’t used to, but it was true to the story and to Anna’s voice. Schiedt does a great job with descriptions and vividness that truly puts you in Anna’s shoes. I appreciated the simple style, the truth in which Schiedt told the story, and the pacing all together. It was lyrical and more memorable in more ways than one.
I think Uses for Boys will be a story that many can connect with and relate to Anna. I enjoyed the dark, gritty and raw feel of it all and I believe others will too.
*Thanks to St. Martin's Press for sending a copy for review