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Saturday, October 27, 2012
Uses for Boys - Review
By: Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Publication Date: January 15, 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin
Source: ARC from publisher via Netgalley
(Goodreads / Amazon)
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, brining 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.
Hmm....I'm not real sure where to begin with my thoughts on this book. I had high hopes for it. First of all, this book was not at all what I was expecting...in a lot of ways. I felt it was very awkwardly written, so much to the point that I nearly just stopped reading many, many times. But I have this incessant need to finish a book, especially now since starting my blog. I just can't leave a book half read if at all possible. Secondly, since this was a book I was approved to read before it hits shelves I felt an even heavier weight to finish it. Back to the awkwardness...I first thought this was because the beginning of the story was being told from the perspective of an 8 year old, but it continued in it's strange and choppy way even when the main character aged.
Perhaps it was just the ebook format I received, but the formatting was off. Sentences were not completed before jumping to a new paragraph (but it really wasn't a new paragraph) and the author's name was randomly plugged all throughout the book (is this normal?!?). It was hard to follow at first.
Aside from all of that, I really kept asking myself, "what is the point of this book?". The main character, Anna, is searching for acceptance and love. When neither a Mom or a Dad is present after the age of 8 years old, she grows up following the pattern she has seen around her, which is turning to guys (i.e. boys) for what she thinks is love. She tries gaining happiness and personal fulfillment through sex with multiple people at a very young age. In her mind sex equals love. Her innocence is stripped away. What's more is clueless Mom, who chooses to chase after men, leaving her young daughter to care for herself and to raise herself. The result of being raised parent-less is a destroyed young girl who doesn't know what true love looks like, how it acts - what it means to be loved and cherished. She uses her body instead of her mind to please others.
This was a depressing book because of how little Anna thought of herself. I was shocked by the bluntness of this story too. It was uncomfortable...perhaps because the main character was so young. Even by the end of the book she is only 16.
Some favorite quotes that sum up this story:
"I had no mother, I had no father...I was alone".
"I'm the girl who works in a cafe. The girl behind the counter. I'm the black dress and worn sneakers. I'm tips in a tip jar. I'm a five-pointed star. I'm the four walls of my apartment. The girl in the abortion clinic. I'm the one wandering through the city looking for something."
"The girl I am now, at sixteen, was always present. She haunted the twelve-year-old me."
"She's never been touched by a boy who knows what love looks like."
Still at the very end I'm left with the same question "what was that all about?" I didn't feel there was any resolution with any of the characters. To sum up my thoughts about this book in one word: strange. 2 stars
Have you read Uses for Boys? What did you think?