Jan 18, 2013

Review: Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Title: Uses For Boys
Author: Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 1.15.2013
Pages: 240
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No
Source: Finished copy from publisher

Rating: A-

Summary (from Goodreads):
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.

I had to pause a few days before writing this review because initially I finished this book and felt really let down, but I think it’s because I didn’t gear myself up for what kind of story this was. I expected a fluffy contemporary novel with a girl who falls for a boy after a string of sufficiently awkward, teenage relationships.

This is not that book.

Uses for Boys is, in fact, a dark, at times depressing story of a girl who finds her self-worth through boys and the things she does to these boys and lets them do to her. Yes, I’m talking about sex. It’s one subject Erica Lorraine Scheidt doesn’t shy away from.

Anna is a sad little girl. She’s been emotionally (and somewhat physically) abandoned by the adults in her life for years. This sets her on a spiral course for trying to find people who value her and care for her. This girl craves love, but doesn’t know how to go about getting it.

I commend Scheidt for taking on this particular issue because, like it or not, this is happening more and more anymore. Girls (and boys) are freely giving away sex and other things/acts for a modicum of attention and something that looks like love on a cloudy day. I’m not trying to stand on a soapbox and preach, but there’s a real problem when statistics say 65% of kids have sexual experience by the time they get out of middle school. Now, I love romance as much as the next girl, and I’m someone who understands that sex in young adult literature is reflective of the fact that teens nowadays are sexually active.

But rarely is the romance all flowers and eternal love like a lot of the fiction we read. It’s more times than not what happens to Anna in this book. It’s broken children who are looking for love in the wrong places.

Scheidt has a fragmented, haunting style of writing that is eerily reminiscent of Frances Block and the Weetzie Bat series. It’s captivating and draws you in even as your insides twist for what Anna is thinking and doing. You can help but ache for Anna and applaud Scheidt.


  1. Oh I'm so happy you loved this one! I like darker contemporary YA, so the fact that you enjoyed the story and the characters is awesome:)

    Lovely review:) Thank you:)

  2. "But rarely is the romance all flowers and eternal love like a lot of the fiction we read. It’s more times than not what happens to Anna in this book. It’s broken children who are looking for love in the wrong places."

    So true Hannah. But the reason you just listed above is part of the reason I know this book will not be for me. I struggle with characters like Anna, I just want to reach in and hug them and tell them the next decision they make is going to be the wrong one. It's so hard for me to watch characters self-destruct or set themselves up for pain, so I think I need to stay away from this one because my fragile little heart can't take it. It's getting a wide variety of reviews which is always interesting, but I'm going to pass despite my curiosity to find out what I think. Beautiful review:)

  3. I am very intriqued with this book. Sounds interesting.
    Your enjoyed story make me can't wait to read this book.
    Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Thanks for doing this review. I have heard A LOT about this book but not really what attitude to go in to this one with.

  5. I'm glad to hear a positive review on this one. It seems that it is too gritty for most bloggers. I personally agree with you that this is reality (unfortunately) and kids are acting like this. I hope to read it soon to develop my own opinion but I am glad I have a full understanding that it isn't a typical contemporary romance. Thanks for your honest thoughts and looking at this a different way.

  6. Thanks for the review. I have heard good things about this book, so I must read it!
    -Cali W.

  7. I'm heard a ton of mixed things about this book and I actually just read a not so raving review, but now yours is giving me second thoughts. I might be giving this one a try now.

    Thanks for the fantastic and honest review!

  8. I love this book and i congratulated you for this review.

  9. I have read a few reviews for this book now, and am prety sure I would like to read it :) I don't read a lot of YA, but this one seems a little deeper.

  10. Based solely on the name and cover of this book, I have wanted to read it for a while now. Your review just confirmed that I would really love this book!


  11. Great review! I've been seeing this book around a lot recently, this is the first time that I've actually read into it though. It sounds like a good story, I can't wait to pick it up :)

  12. I have really been a Contemporary reading kick this month and this has been on my TBR list just chanting read me, read me. I hope to pick up this week, I love books that don't shy away from the harsh topics of life.

  13. Thank goodness for Blog Hops - now I am learning more about you and your books - this is on my TBR list for sure.

  14. Wow.. totally not what I expected this to be about.. It's still on my TBR pile though so I'll have to see what I make of it. Great review! :)

  15. Thanks for this review :) I would like read this book to make me my own opinion


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