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Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
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Uses for Boys

by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

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I really really wanted it to be just a good ol' contemp YA romance story. But it wasn't. It was a huge disappointment. And not only that, it made me feel disgusted.

"Seriously?" You may ask, because, perhaps you were really waiting for it too. Cuz just... look at the cover!

Yeah, the cover is fabulous, but the inside... the pages... well, they're not.

I actually liked the beginning, and thought that it would be a good story with a moral or something. So I read on, till I reached about page 40. That's when my eyes bugged out, and I turned off the kindle, wondering what I had just read. You know, perhaps I'd not seen right, not read right.

I turned on the kindle later, but nope, those paragraphs were still there. And I felt dirty, like perhaps I'd feel if I were to watch pedo porn. Yeah. You read my words right.

And check this out! I deleted the book from the kindle, but a few days later decided to give it another go. You know, perhaps out of curiosity ( a little) and also because I'd requested the book and didn't want to end up not giving feedback. So, I downloaded it again on my phone. I skipped those particular disturbing scenes, and went on ahead to perhaps page 60 or something. And I had to once again delete the book and just decide to forget about it.

SPOILER

Goodness gracious! A fourteen-year old having sex, and us being given the details of it as if this was an ADULT book is not only gross, it's wrong. And then said girl being raped... and her thinking that the guy had been in love with her.... it's just mental. I think there's something wrong with the author. I'm sorry. It's my own opinion.

END OF SPOILER

So, the story may get absolutely fantastic in the end, and the girl may end up living her happily ever after, but like every story, this one also had a beginning and a middle. And honestly, if the middle grosses me out and makes me want to puke and just delete it from my device, then what good is a good ending?

To be honest, I don't recommend this book. At all. To anyone. And most of all teenage girls. It's just disgusting. At least you'd find it so if you are like me. If you're really hard core, then go ahead and try it. Perhaps you'd feel there was a point to it all.

Anyway, this is definitely NOT A REVIEW. It's just my own rant. So yeah.
  VanyaDrum | Jan 26, 2014 |
Pros:
* Stark, bare, raw writing
* Unreliable (lost) narrator
* Captures something haunting
* Entire actions and scenes are captures in a sentence or two

Cons:
* Bare bones narration combined with shakiness of the narrator makes you wonder how much is true or is really happening.
* Entire actions and scenes are captures in a sentence or two, which can lead to some backtracking when a scene doesn't make sense
* Depressing as hell

The headline on the back of this book is, "If you give boys what they want, they give you what you need. Right?" And it sums up the novel perfectly.

From her missing father, to her mother who is always looking for someone to stave off the loneliness Anna never had a chance. And when she mistakes sex for love to replace this emptiness, all she does is make the same mistakes her mother did. ( )
  ErikaWasTaken | Sep 22, 2013 |
**Warning - This review will contain spoilers**

I really wanted to love this book. The cover and the blurb appealed to the romantic in me. Even after I started reading, I thought there was such an opportunity to develop a story of personal redemption, to show how a girl can make the choices that Anna does earlier in the story and still learn to value herself.

The first few chapters do an amazing job of setting up how the abandonment by her father and the emotional distance from her mother has effected her. She watches her mother go from man to man, constantly in search for someone who will 'love' her. It's an example Anna begins to follow. It's sad at first and while I didn't really like Anna, I could pity her. Then she's raped and I think okay, here's a turning point. Instead, she mopes around wondering why her rapist didn't kiss her?!?! Uh, what? I could have understood her feeling anger, hurt, fear, even misplaced guilt, but curiosity about why he didn't kiss her?? This is when I realized that Anna didn't mind having sex with different guys. She didn't mind being used by the guys. She was using them as much as they were using her. And that is where my sympathy for her ended. There's a lot of narrative about her being alone, and how her mom just doesn't care, but ultimately she makes the same choices as her mom, and then still whines about her.

The boys in the book are set up to be villains, but honestly, apart from the one who rapes her (although her thought process doesn't even suggest that she would have said no) they are simply doing what typical teenage boys do. If a girl has no respect for herself, then they're not going to respect her. Should they? Yes, but if you're willing to sit on school bus and jerk one of them off while his buddies and everyone else on the bus watches then that's on you. Especially when you keep doing it. I thought this would be the lesson Anna learns. That she has value and should expect to be valued by boys. But even at the end she is driven by the physical side.

Sam is set up as her savior, but he's not. He is simply a boy whose parents taught him to be respectful of everyone regardless of their actions. The blurb on the book suggests that he teaches Anna that she has a value beyond sex, but he doesn't (consider the fact that she cheats on him twice with a one night stand). Sam's a virgin, all the way up until Anna manages to pressure him into having sex. Then she gets him to lie to his parents about it. When they get caught by his mom, Anna suddenly feels embarrassed.

Then book is pretty much over. She never changes her actions. She never stops complaining about the way her mom is always on the hunt for a new man. She never tries to help her friend Toy deal with the problems she obviously has. She simply keeps going.

I've read a few reviews and many say there was no point to this book. That it ends before we see Anna come to any realizations. And while I agree that we don't see that, I wonder if that isn't the point. Could it be that the blurb is misleading? Maybe this is really a story about a girl who never has and never will place any value on herself beyond what she can give to boys. Maybe it is a hard look at how some people never change, no matter how many times they get hurt.

This is not a book for everyone and my recommendations would be limited to much older teens. The sex is graphic for YA and there is no lesson to learn from the mistakes she makes.In the end I just liked it and blame myself for judging a book by its cover. ( )
  AngelaFristoe | May 10, 2013 |
Uses for Boys is a gritty contemporary YA about a girl left alone to parent herself. There's a lot of mature content here, and some dark subject material.

My heart went out to Anna, who is constantly left alone while her mother goes off on one date after another, marries a new guy, then splits up with him and starts the process over. As a result, Anna is left to fend for herself. It's hard not to feel heartbroken for her, to feel her loneliness as her mother goes off again and again, to watch both Anna and her mother make all sorts of terrible decisions just to feel important to someone, if only for a short time.

I thought the first part of the book -- where Anna is pretty much stuck in despair -- was too long and the second part --- in which she sees what she's been missing out on and how hard it will be for her to have a life she wants -- too short, and that was frustrating. But I recommend this to fans of gritty contemporary YA.

Read full review on my blog
  JenRyland | Mar 30, 2013 |
Uses for Boys is not a romance, it’s a dark gritty look into a dysfunctional family and the impact it has on the protagonist. This was not an easy book to read with its dark subject matter and unusual writing style. It touches on sex, rape, drugs, lies, loss, and emotional scars. Anna tries to fill the emptiness she feels with boys. (i.e. sex) It is sad and raw and ugly. She is brave and lonely and I cried for the loss of this young woman's innocence.

Anna does not know who her father is and she is perfectly happy being her mom’s one and only. Anna turns eight and her Mom starts dressing up, going out and bringing home a string of boyfriends, husbands, and step-brothers. She finds herself moving from one new home to another. When the last marriage fails she becomes a latch-key kid. I felt so sorry for Anna and hated her mother;'s selfish ways. I hated that this awkward girl confused abuse and attention from boys as love. Toy was an interesting girlfriend and I loved the way the girls dressed in vintage clothing. For all that Anna does wrong; there is a lot she does right and responsibly.

Scheidt does not paint us a pretty picture; she instead delivers a raw, gritty, dark tale of the darker side of being a teenage girls. It is a painful look at promiscuity and why some girls are drawn to it. It may cause some readers to look twice at the school “slut” While this is labeled young adult, it really pushes the limits and is meant for a much older reader. Sex, abortion and drug use are all present. I would not want my own daughter's exposed to this without a lot of discussion to follow. The tale is told from Anna’s point of view, but there is very little dialogue as we are essentially taking a trip inside her mind as she shares her thoughts, fears and warped reality.
I want to thank St. Martin’s Press for providing this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer ( )
  kimbacaffeinate | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, it was just the two of them against the world. But now her mom's gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, the next stepfather. Anna gets used to being alone, until she discovers that she can make boys her family, from Desmond to Joey to Todd. But filling the void comes at a price.… (more)

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