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.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Book Title: Uses for Boys
Author: Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Release Date: January 15th, 2013
Publisher: St Martin's Press
I was a little skeptical about reading this book because of the title alone. I kept picturing Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt as the book equivalence of the movie Friends with Benefits. Although there are some pretty graphic scenes in this book as far as content is concerned, each scene was important to the overall message of this book.
Uses for Boys is one of those books I can certainly see school counselors using to their benefit. I think its message about boys, sex, and growing up is life changing and something that many teenagers out there can benefit from. Anna, the main character, has always taken care of herself. Raised by a mom who spends more time at her boyfriends houses (which changes on an almost monthly basis) than at her own with her daughter, Anna is responsible for getting herself to school, making meals, and entertaining herself. Not only is this lonely for Anna, but she has no one else to look up to or teach her things. From a young age Anna learns that boys are expendable and easily replaceable. After all, doesn’t her mom have a new one all the time?
What really broke my heart was watching Anna get her hopes up when her mother did decide to marry a few of her boyfriends along the way. Each time they would move into a nice house, Anna would have siblings for once, and she would have a real family, the kind kids at school all have. Unfortunately it really doesn’t work out like this. Most of the guys Anna’s mom marries are losers and only want her for one thing. Anna’s new stepsiblings that she was so excited about keep to themselves and want nothing to do with her. Then there’s her mother, who hasn’t changed a bit since her marriage. Instead of being at home with her family, she leaves the house with her new husband or spends most of her time at work. Watching Anna go through this was so hard though, because she is just a child craving love and acceptance.
All that free time Anna has after school tends to get her in trouble though. She starts to learn about sex from the boys she meets along the way and eventually drops out of school. This book was reminiscent of some statistics I learned about years ago, which basically argued that kids whose parents got pregnant as teens, are more likely to get pregnant as a teen themselves. It’s so sad because it’s this vicious cycle that kids like Anna get themselves into. Sex awareness is low in these types of households sometimes and especially in Anna’s case. What infuriated me the most was the lack of concern Anna’s mom showed to her daughter. Even when she gets pregnant, Anna’s mom basically tells her she isn’t surprised. Yet, Anna’s mom never did anything to prevent this or teach her daughter about sex safety.
Along the way Anna learns a lot about the types of people in her life, who to trust, and what she actually wants. Despite making some arguably poor decisions at a young age, I think Anna is incredibly smart and strong and can’t really be blamed for the hand she was dealt in life. What really made the story for me was the ending. I thought it was a great close to Anna’s story and it left me with some hope for her future and for kids out there who are going through something similar to what Anna deals with in Uses for Boys. I only hope that this book falls into the hands of the right teens so that they can benefit from this book like I think they might. Although this book isn’t something I would typically pick up and it took me a while to get through, I do think this book carries a strong message.