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Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Sunday, January 13, 2013
Synopsis: 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 by Erica Lorraine Scheidt is a story of breaking down and growing up.

Review: When you read the synopsis of a book, you can have an idea of what it’s going to be about, but you can never be completely sure. I had high expectations for Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt, but Uses for Boys did not meet my expectations; it blew them away.

Uses for Boys starts readers off in Anna’s childhood, a time when the only person Anna’s mom needed was her. But when that changes and a stream of boyfriends and husbands and exhusbands float through Anna’s mother’s life, Anna needs to figure out a way to fill the void. And she does so the same way her mother does: by using boys.

Through Anna’s raw narration, we learn of the many boys who float through Anna’s life and how they make her feel. Anna does not hold back as she describes what Desmond and Todd did to her and how Joey and Sam make her feel loved. It was refreshing to read a young adult novel that does not shy away from discussing sex.

In conjunction with Anna’s story, we also hear Toy’s story. Like Anna, Toy hasn’t heard from her father in years and receives little to no care from her mother. Like Anna, Toy turns to boys to solve her problems. Toy’s stories of first dates and first times are vivid, but it turns out that Toy has an even bigger secret than Anna. When this secret was finally revealed, my heart broke for Toy.

I have never read a young adult book like this before. Uses for Boys allowed me to experience things I have never experienced—like having something taken from me by a boy, dropping out of school, and not talking to my mother for months—through something that I have experienced, something that I believe all of us have experienced: feeling as if I am not loved. Erica Lorraine Scheidt took this feeling, showed how it affected several very different people, and then told her characters and her readers to never believe that they are not loved.

Reviewed by
: Stephanie

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