|Cover Rating: ★★★★☆|
Author: Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Pages: 240 (Paperback)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: January 15, 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.
I'm not usually a fan of the more flowery writing, but I think it works really well for Uses for Boys. This is not a happy story. We first see Anna as a little girl with her mom, but then as the years go by, her mother kind of disappears. She moves from one man to the other, leaving Anna home by herself for days at a time. All Anna wants is a family, to not be alone anymore. Then at 13, boys start paying attention to her, and it's just want Anna thinks she needs.
The sexual content in this one is quite explicit. Not like an adult novel, but definitely more detailed than a typical YA one. Some of these scenes are hard to read, not because it's a young teen engaging in various sexual acts, but, let's just say not all of them are consensual. There's A LOT of sex in this book, and it's a major driving force in Anna's story as she tries to find her place.
I felt awful for Anna throughout the entire book. She hops from one bad situation to another, and it was heartbreaking. Everyone seems to leave her; her mom, boys, and so-called friends. The worse part is, she just accepts it. She's not very pro-active in any of her relationships. She just kind of stumbles upon the next person, and when they leave her, she just stumbles upon someone new. This girl is so desperate for love that she sees it where it doesn't exist.
Uses for Boys is a story bathed in sadness. It's a very gloomy read, but very real. I was hoping things would get better for Anna about 2/3 in when she meets Sam, but they don't. Not really. The ending was a little abrupt and unsatisfying. I'm not sure if Anna really resolved anything with any of the people in her life or with herself. It seemed like she's still stuck in that cycle of accepting people who use her. However, this was definitely a worthwhile read. I read it straight through in one setting, and it's probably one of my favorite YA contemporaries so far.
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