Review: Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

December 17, 2012 Book Review, Erica Lorraine Scheidt, Netgalley, Realistic Fiction, St. Martin's Press, Uses for Boys, YA, Young Adult 22

Publication Date: January 15th 2013

From Goodreads:

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.

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Uses for Boys is a tough book for me to review. Above everything else, this is a book about the journey of a lonely girl and her path to growing up.

I think it is best to fully understand what this novel is about before you read, or it might take away from your reading experience. Because honestly, I was expecting something so utterly different. When we first meet Anna, she is a very young girl who loves her mom and tells stories about how they are a family. But that is quickly erased when she is constantly ignored and left alone while her mom searches for the next future ex-husband. She has no one to care for her, or show her love. And she has no one to offer her any sort of life guidance. We start to see her involved in sexual situations at a very young age. She really doesn’t know any better and she feels like these boys can be a part of her family, the family she is missing. What the author was able to achieve, and perhaps this is just what I felt personally, but it was like I could feel her loneliness by the emotionless shell we are in from Anna’s point of view. And I don’t mean this to sound like a negative on the writing because I thought the style fit very well with this character. There was no sitting around weeping, feeling sorry for herself. We just get her going through the day to day motions of life, a life fraught with loneliness and sex. A lot of sex I might add. Which is where I must stress that this novel is high on the scale of mature content, and not in the swoony sexy way, but much more of the sensitive subject type. This poor girl is really naive to love and sex and was so utterly taken advantage of. It was sometimes hard to read, to be honest.

All that being said, this IS Anna’s journey. This is the story we are meant to hear, the journey she takes to grow up and find out what family is. My connection to Anna wasn’t based on what I felt from her while I was reading, but moreso with how real I felt she was portrayed. I knew this girl growing up. And it affected me in that way because I just wanted to hold her hand and be the friend she so desperately needed.

Moving on to the ‘love story’ that was non-existent. If you are like me, you read the line “Then comes Sam.” along with the rest of that paragraph in the synopsis and expected some sort of romance to be involved. Sadly, that is just not the case. First off, Sam does not appear in the novel until probably the last 75 pages or so. Of course he is everything you know Anna needs, but I never truly felt love coming from them at all. This is where I was most disappointed. I guess I expected more growth in that department? Reading something so sad just made me crave a strong happily ever after that I didn’t find.

Can I just add that I mentally CRINGED every time I had to read the name TOY, which is the name of Anna’s friend? *sigh* I can’t take someone seriously with that name, just NO.

You must really read between the lines of the summary to truly get what this book is about, and the last line sums it up perfectly. “Real, shocking, uplifting, and stunningly lyrical, Uses for Boys is a story of breaking down and growing up.” If you like realistic fiction and are not sensitive to issues such as rape and abortions as well as mature content, than I would recommend giving this one a shot!

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**I would recommend this book for older teens and up due to sexual content.**

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

22 Responses to “Review: Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt”

  1. Joyous Reads

    As soon as I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I had to STAY AWAY. I’m not a fan of a character who sleeps around regardless of any justifiable reasons (unless the character is for hire, if you catch my drift) he or she may have. It sounds like you have to bring an open mind and an open heart to understand Anna better.

    Great review, Sara. This just proves why I had to steer clear of this book.

  2. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

    So here is the thing, from the synopsis I knew I was gonna be getting a very screwed up girl who equates sex with love and is desperate for love and is looking for it in different guys. The sex doesn’t bother me although I think this book would fit in more with the New Adult genre. For some reason, I love screwed up characters, they are my favorite. Something about seeing them learn from their mistakes and grow is something I love to read about. I’m thinking of reading this one soon and I hope I really like it because I have high hopes for it.
    Loved your review!

    • Sara @ Forever 17 Books

      I expected it as well, to a degree. But I think there were a lot of factors that shocked me on that front. And I really did expect the love story to be more involved than it was. I am really interested to what you will think when you are done. 🙂

  3. Alise (Readers In Wonderland)

    I’ve heard about this one but I guess I didn’t read the synopsis close enough LOL I had no idea it was such a deep, emotional read. It sort of changes my opinion of it, the material usually wouldn’t bother me, but like you said, it hits close to home. Great review! 🙂

  4. Jess

    I like that this a more mature book, but like you I’m not sure how I feel about the name “Toy”. This sounds like a great contemporary so it’s on my TBR list.

  5. YA Novelties

    This book doesn’t really seem or sound to be one that is really a worthwhile read. From what you said, and the blurb, it’s one of those contemporaries (emphasis on those). Not like there’s anything I have against contemporaries, but seriously, it doesn’t seem to be one that will the reader can enjoy fully. Great review, “Toy” is just too ridiculously funny to take seriously.

    -Angie @YA Novelties

  6. starryeyedjen

    I still have this to read, but the lack of romance — which is totally why I wanted to read it in the first place — means I’ll be shoving it lower on the pile. I still want to read it, but I feel I’ve been mislead by that cover and the summary. 🙁

  7. Tabitha

    I’m really looking forward to this book. From what I’ve heard about Anna she reminds me one of my friends, and I think it’d be a good for me to read it and see if I can relate the two. I was really looking forward to the romance in this book ebacuse like you when I saw “then comes Sam” I was automatically expecting this kind of… borderline epic romance? And the cover doesn’t match the synopsis… AND TOY? What the heck, I’m amused but at the same time I can’t take it seriously.

    Can’t wait for this book! Great review.

  8. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    I did figure that this would be difficult and a raw look at a girl using sex as a filler for love. But I am sad to hear she and her relationship with Sam doesn’t develop more. Like you said from the synopsis (and also the cover) I figured this would be one of those romances where she is getting love in all the wrong places and then meets a great guy that shows her what is like to be treated right and they fall in love. A little disappointed that doesn’t really happen but still sounds like a good story. Just glad I know now to prepare myself for some tough situations.

  9. Kassiah

    Great review. I totally agree with what you said, especially about Sam. I wanted MORE from them. Enough to show she really had it together now.

    With that being said, I want to read that book that actually goes with this cover. lol

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