Publication Date: January 15th 2013
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 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!
**I would recommend this book for older teens and up due to sexual content.**