Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Published by St. Martin's Press; January 15, 2013
Paperback, 240 pages
Borrowed from library
Paperback, 240 pages
Borrowed from library
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.
- Description from Goodreads.com
No amount of "the cover is misleading" could have ever prepared me for what waited for me in the book. Honestly, I was surprised at the amount of sex and graphic imagery. Had I known this was going to be in the book, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. Yes, I've sat through health classes and yes, I know what a penis looks like but having it described to you in that way is horrifying and disgusting. It makes me wish that sex weren't even a thing. Just, EURGH.
What I did appreciate with Uses for Boys was the style of writing which was what made the first few chapters awesome and incredibly readable. I zoomed through them in two minutes and without them, I probably wouldn't have been able to stomach those gross juvenile sex scenes. Or want to continue at all. Once we had gone a little further into the book, the writing changed a bit. Perhaps that was to signify the growth of Anna, but for me, I would have liked the writing to have stayed the same. It was unique and special and I loved it.
I thought the pacing in this book was totally off. We didn't meet Sam until 3/4 in and that probably has something to do with the lack of connection I felt towards him. To me, he was like every other guy Anna has hooked up with. I mean, wow, he abstains from sex for, like, a day and that means he's "more than useful" or that he is "the one"? Oh, please. Give me something I can actually believe. There was nothing more to the Anna/Sam relationship than sex. I think there was more love in the Anna/Josh relationship which, by the way, takes up more of the book than Anna/Sam does.
Now with Anna, I actually liked her for the first bit. I felt she was a real teenage voice and that even though I couldn't really connect with her, I could appreciate her and the story she would tell. That soon disappeared. I mean, I totally understand how hard it is to never have a parent there. I just feel like the author was trying to make me pity Anna or sympathize with her when, in all honesty, she was unlikable. I just couldn't bring myself to make an effort to connect to her because I couldn't. It's terrible, what happened to her and I wish I could sound like a caring human being and say that "yes, I did sympathize and my heart broke for her" but I can't. Because in reality, I sat there flipping the pages like a robot.
There also seemed to be no character development at all. I think this may be related to the fact that Sam is practically like every other jerk Anna's ever dated. I just don't see her learning from her experiences and that frustrates me so much. She's still the same girl, the same girl who relies on guys to give her attention. And I think that bugged me a lot. Having it end and knowing that Anna did not change in any way. I don't feel as though she owned her mistakes and recognized that.
There were also a lot of loose, confusing situations and especially that of Toy who gave me the biggest headache of all. I think most of her parts was just filler and I didn't really see how she relevant to Anna's story except for maybe showing that Anna did in fact have a life outside of the guys. In all, I just really did not enjoy this book. It was a fast read, yes, but it was just incredibly dull and monotonous. In essence, Uses for Boys is a story about all the relationships one girl has with guys. And there's really not much other than that. Except for a lot of graphic sex and gross scenes. Don't be mislead by the cover because it's not cutesy or romantic at all. It was gritty and horrifying. But after reading this, I know that these dark, serious, Ellen Hopkins-esque books are not for me and I'll gladly stay away from them.