Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Review: Uses For Boys

Uses for BoysAuthor: Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

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.

“‘Men leave,’ she says. ‘Just like my father,’ she says. ‘Just like yours.’” – Paperback Copy pg. 21

“And then he doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t say he’ll miss me or that he’s sorry. Does he know he’s leaving me? That I’ll have to ride the bus home alone and come home alone and be home alone? They leave, I think, just like my mom says.” – Paperback Copy pg. 45

“We’re the same age, we slump the same way in all our school pictures, have endured all of the same hairstyles. There are empty rooms that the stepfather and stepbrother left behind, just like at my house. We could switch places, I think, like in a movie. She’s still talking and I stare at her thin ankles, her scuffed shoes. Toy looks like me in that way where she doesn’t at all. Not on the outside.” – Paperback Copy pg. 67

“‘Did he smell good?’ I ask. They had many dates like that. Sitting quietly together and smelling each other. She was falling in love, Toy says, and this is what it’s like. Every morning she showered, shaved and was ready. Just in case. Ready for her first time.” – Paperback Copy pg. 71

Where do I even start with a review of this book? This book is nothing like many people expected, I’m sure. This is the story of Anna who has been trained to believe that men leave, that’s just what they do. She has been raised by a mother who has a new boyfriend or husband by the end of each month and who NEVER makes time for her only child and daughter who really needs her. Anna, after realizing that she will never be nurtured by either parent, turns to the company of boys and uses them to feel her void. She quickly falls into the trap of believing what every boy tells you and allows them to take advantage of her in ways and by doing things that no one her age should experience. This story is not full of love and wonderful love scenes. It is real and it is raw. Scheidt gives it to you straight and leaves off the bells and whistles in the process.

This book was nothing like what I thought it would be but I appreciated its rough edges and its originality. Every young girl could use a large dose of this book and more would probably be better off if they had read it before heading into their adolescent years. Anna is young, naïve, and looking for a way out. She shares all of her inner most thoughts with readers, and when I say all, I mean ALL. She is so desperate and actually starving for a place to belong that it is horrible to people like me who really developed sympathy for this girl. Her story is so heart wrenching that it even made me feel vulnerable. I think that the way this story is told, in short, choppy chapters that cut straight to the point, really pulls on your emotions even more. The guys begin to blur together in a way that I believe the author intended for. The writing allows you, the reader, to view Anna exactly as she views herself.

This book does not feel like fiction and that is why it was so emotional and hard for me to get through. Girls go through exactly the same things that Anna went through every single day. It is horrible to imagine and awful to expect but it is reality. I want to clear up a few things for readers right now. This is a wonderful book and I recommend it to anyone, but you should know now to prepare yourself. I will not give away all of Anna’s secrets, because it is her story after all, but I will tell you that topics and issues are addressed that I myself sometimes have a hard time reading. This book was one that I could not put down and it will cause you to ponder your own life and decisions once you have finished reading it. I know it sounds ironic but if you are a mother, which I am not, I think that you could learn a lot from this book and you would see just how much of a potential impact you have on your children, especially your daughters.

***Thank you to the publishers at St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review***


  1. I am reading less YA Contemporary than usual, but can't wait to read Uses for Boys. I have seen a lot of interesting reviews. Most of the bad ratings that I have seen come from those who struggle with the emotional content. I for one love a book that can make me feel deeply about something. Thanks for your great review.

  2. Good review. I need to start reading.

  3. I'd already been intrigued by the synopsis of this one, and I'm glad to hear it was a surprise, and tougher than it appears at first glance! I'm definitely going to try this one, thanks!