Title: Uses for Boys
Author: Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Release Date: Already released!
Have you heard that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover? Yeah, I know you have. Plenty of times. So have I. And here’s a secret: I judged this book by its cover. I judged it by its title, Uses for Boys, as well as the photo of two teens making out with a string of holiday lights wrapped around them. Both just screamed to me, “Hi, I’m a terrible teen romance novel!” You should know that this was a complete misjudgment.
This book is beautiful. The writing is simply splendid – it’s poetic and striking and candid and lovely. It made me feel so many things when I was reading it, and I suppose I will try to explain those now. But first, a brief synopsis:
Uses for Boys is a story about a girl named Anna. When she is little, Anna’s mother loves her. She holds her and tells her stories; she tells Anna that all she ever wanted was a daughter. But as Anna gets older, her mother begins a vicious cycle of marriage, divorce, and sporadic dating. Anna is left home alone often for days at a time and she soon discovers she can use boys to fill the void left by her mother. She hooks up with multiple guys, earns a reputation as a slut, and drops out of high school, moving in with the boy she’s dating. She rarely speaks with her mother, instead confiding in her friend Toy. Toy tells Anna about all the romantic things boys do for her, rendering Anna jealous, even though she isn’t capable of looking past the surface to see that Toy’s life is not as perfect as it seems.
When Anna meets Sam, a boy with whom she can connect on a level deeper than meaningless sex, she doesn’t know what to do. Having dinner with his family, going on real dates, not going further than Sam feels comfortable – these are not things to which Anna is accustomed. But as she gets used to them and to Sam, she finds herself wondering if their different backgrounds might be what it takes to tear them apart.
This book made me feel everything – there were happy moments, there were sad moments, there were everything-in-between moments. Potential readers should be aware that nothing in this book is censored. I appreciated its honesty, although there were a few sex scenes (especially those involving rape) that were uncomfortable and troubling to read. This isn’t a judgment I’ll often make on a book; I’ve certainly read a variety of uncensored material for both teens and adults (think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). But there was something about this book that deals with such real, scary topics that I found difficult to read while conscious of the fact that this is the reality some people face every day. Nonetheless, I appreciated that. I respect books that make me aware of the unpleasant truths about life. It was enlightening, complicated, and haunting.
Uses for Boys is a novel written for young women and I think it would certainly appeal to them more than any other category of reader. Readers will be challenged to think and reflect on what they’re reading, and will be inspired by the beautiful writing. It’s short enough to read in a few hours (and once you get started, you won’t want to stop). I definitely recommend this book for a young adult female reader looking for something deep, powerful, intense, and certainly different from the average teen romance novel. Please don’t judge this book by its cover – give Uses for Boys a chance.
– Katie (:
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