Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Posted January 13, 2013 | 26 Comments

Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine ScheidtUses for Boys
Author: Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Format: eARC
Pages: 240
Source: Publisher

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.

Ugh, I had to totally scrap the original review I wrote for this book, because it got way too personal.  It was therapeutic, though.  So let’s start over.  Uses for Boys is a book that takes you places… painful places.  I think this is the hardest review I’ve ever had to write.  Part of me just wants to say how I really liked this book, but a big part of me wants to go over every little part and talk about the psychology of it all. The author captured something very raw and real with Uses for Boys, and I wish I could eloquently express why this book is so good, but I know I won’t be able to pull it off.

The story starts when Anna as a young  girl living with her mother. As Anna gets older, her mother leaves her alone a lot to work and to seek the company of men.  She not only leaves her physically, but also emotionally.  Anna soon discovers that she can use boys for the attention she seeks and try to fill the emotional void. The book follows Anna’s painful road to happiness and love.

Anna’s mom is easy to dislike, but I really felt sorry for her as the story went on and got a little more insight. Scheidt did a fantastic job at bringing it all around, and the significance of where Anna chose to live was great. I want to discuss it all, but don’t want to spoil it. What the author did and how she had it play out was excellent, though.

I know the girl Anna is. I know her story very well. When certain things happened in the book, it’s way too easy for me to feel the depth of where the feelings, behavior, and train of thoughts were coming from.  The use of sex and drugs, the pregnancy at a young age, the dissociation… yep, familiar with it all.  For me, this is one of those books where if someone knocks it or the characters, it’s hard not to take personally. I know better though. Not everyone can connect with something like this, and not everyone wants to. This story is very realistic, and covers a lot of issues.

At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the way Uses for Boys was written, but soon realized that it was perfect for Anna’s story, because it really fit her voice.  I loved how the author included how Anna would imagine how a scenario or dialogue might play out in certain situations, because it was so accurate.  Even the way Anna wanted someone to ask her certain things, just needed someone to ask… but sort of freezes and doesn’t know what to say when they do.  So much of this book was spot on and genuine.

No, this isn’t an easy read to get through; it’s tough to read at times.  However, there is a lot of beauty to it, as well.  Anna has to go down a certain path and figure things out for herself before she can move on and stop the cycle passed on from her mom.  As hard as it was to read Anna’s story, I was rooting for her the entire time to hit that “ah-ha moment.”  I have to say that I was very proud of her in the end, even though she continues to be a work in progress. It’s definitely a book that takes you through the dark before seeing the light. This is ultimately a love story. Not just the love between a boy and a girl, but the love a girl discovers for herself. Anna seeks to fill the void she feels through the use of guys, but has to learn to fill that void by loving herself.  She also discovers the love of a close, supportive family.

This is one of those books that I wish people would just try instead of relying too much on reviews (including mine) to decide if they’ll read it or not.  I also hope people don’t focus solely on the darkness of the book, because there is so much more to it than that. Honestly, I wish I could have read this when I was sixteen.  And after reading Uses for Boys, I see the subtle things on the cover that go so well with the story.

Overall, I liked Uses for Boys a lot, and hope more people read it.


26 responses to “Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

  1. Excellent review, I think it will be safe for you to read mine, since i like you found a lot redeeming qualities in Anna, and was in some ways proud of her, hated the mother. My biggest issue for the book was that it had no place in YA..without a parental warning, sadly not everyone reads the books their teens do like you and I..and these topics are dark, gritty and raw. I too liked the authors writing style and maybe I was harsh giving it a three.. great review cupcake!

  2. I can’t wait for Uses for Boys to come out. I’ve been trying not to read reviews too closely because I want to judge on my own so I hear you on trying to give the book a chance without reading reviews.

  3. You are absolutely awesome, sweetheart. I wasn’t even a fraction as brave as you are to even finish the book or write a review. I agree with every word you wrote.

    (I completely suck at dream casts and playlists, so I go the humorous route and just start pulling people and music from the 80s since I’m old anyway) 😉

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  4. Great review! I really did like this even though I was so sad. I do think it is an important story for young girls. Too many adults are too naive and don’t realize that so may young girls are going through these feelings. While not to the extreme of Anna I did almost get a bit personal in my review because I can understand and appreciate wanting a connection and to be noticed and loved. I do know many girls that have Anna’s mind set and following along with her story I totally understood everything she did. I liked the hopeful ending and was glad she wanted to make changes. It does take a long time of hitting bottom before changes can be made. I was lucky to have a wonderful mom but I felt for Anna so much while reading.

    • Christy

      Very true. I have a 15-year-old who will be 16 next month in my life whose life is so very similar to Anna’s that it kills me. Thankfully she moved with other family members in a different state. I just hope it helps her.

  5. Well now I want to read your other review so I can get in your head. I have read several reviews on this one and people are not exactly loving it. I think everyone was expecting a sweet fluffy read based on the cover and they got something else. I know I would love the psychology aspects so I guess I better read it for myself, because you know for whatever reason, I trust you. Oh wait that was too nice….hmm I guess I want to read this to see how messed up you are for liking it.

  6. This book seems to have really hit home with you and I can feel the emotion in your review. I tend to steer clear of realistic fiction like this preferring the paranormal and complete escapism. I enjoyed your review though and you’ve peeked my interest in this book so you never know, I may get around to it one day. And as for picking a dream cast, you couldn’t possibly be worse at it than me. I watch very little tv but the Disney Channel is on in my house all day so any actors that come to mind are always kids, and even though it might be a YA book, I never actually picture them that way 🙂

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    • Christy

      lol – I know, it’s harder to dream cast teenagers because even though I know adults often play teens in movies, it’s hard to put them in that role. And I always envision characters my own way in my head, so it’s double hard to find someone famous to fit that image. I just hate dream casts. 😀

  7. Beatriz G

    I’ve been wanting to read this book since I first heard about it. And I absolutely loved your review! It was very well-written and it makes me want the book even more.

  8. This sounds like a great book, even with the emotional pain attached. I’ve seen a whole of different opinions on this one but I think it’s natural for a book that delves into such personal issues. YA books are so hard to make movie casts for because it’s rare that I actually know who the teen actors are at the moment.

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  9. I’ve been really interested in this one for awhile. I liked your review I’d be interested in your original. We should have a blooper page for those reviews. They may not be bloopers but they’d be good. I know what u meant by wishing you could write this eloquent, NY Times Book section worthy review for certain books. I wish I could do that for every review! lolz

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