Author: Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Reading Level: Extremely Mature YA
Pages: 236 (eARC)
Source: Netgalley via Publisher for Blog Tour
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.
It's really hard for me to write a review for this book. I both liked it and didn't like it. I felt for the characters and felt detached from them all the same. I didn't want it to end, but I couldn't wait for the story to be finished. I was all over the place with this one.
To put it simply, this book was not what I expected. It was very dark, very gritty, and it had a lot of sex. I've seen people refer to this book as porn. It's not porn. It's graphic, but the sex has a purpose to it because Anna makes up for the lack of family in her life by using boys. But I have to be honest and say that the sex made me comfortable. I can deal with the fact that it's graphic, I can deal with the fact that there's sex in the book, but I can't deal with the fact that I pitied this girl so much and was slightly disgusted by some of her actions. It was just too much at times. And that is one of the reasons that makes it obvious that this book is not for everyone. It really is not for children and I only recommend it to those that are seventeen years or older.
One thing I did enjoy was the unique writing style. The story was quick and straight to the point due to its short chapters, repetitive but in an artistic way used to stress points instead of being annoying. The comparisons were unique and I did enjoy the writing style that Scheidt exhibited. However, the writing style was a lot to adjust to at first. Combine that with the fact that the beginning of the novel is way more graphic than you thought it would be and it shows why I initially had trouble getting into this one. I can't agree with Anna's choices at a young age and why she so easily allowed others to take advantage of her. And all of this combines to reveal to the reader that this story with the pretty cover that you think is going to be a light contemporary is dark, gritty, and some can consider it disturbing. It has so many underlying themes that are almost overwhelming. I can't begin to stress how this book isn't for everyone, but how important it is to get past the beginning because it does get better.
And when I say it gets better, I mean when she meets Sam. Anna almost becomes likable when she meets Sam. He's awkward and quirky and the same age as her. He brings out the good in her and then she goes and does something stupid like cheat on him and we begin to dislike her again even though they're still amazingly cute together. But the silly thing is just like we have no idea why Anna does what she does, Anna clearly doesn't either. She does things on impulses that make no sense whatsoever, simply because that's how she is. She is Anna and Anna has no firm plans in life. And with me saying all of this you get the vibe that I didn't like this book, but that's not true. I'm simply still running in circles because this book made me think. A lot.
So, as you can tell, this book had me all over the place. Thus, I can't decide on a rating. What do I think of the book? At the moment, I'm going to say I remain neutral. I did not love it, I did not hate it, I simply read it and didn't mind it. I need more time to sit and stew this one over, but I do recommend this book to those who are looking for a really dark tale that is incredibly though-provoking, as long as these individuals are members of the older audience. For the millionth time, this is not a book for young kids.