My Thoughts On: Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Posted November 19, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 20 Comments


Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Published by St. Martin’s Press
Publish Date: January 13, 2013
240 Pages
Source:  NetGalley

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. –(summary excerpt from Goodreads)

Uses For Boys
by Erica Lorraine Scheidt


My Thoughts:  Uses For Boys caught my eye with merely half-a-glance with that beautiful, beautiful cover and interesting summaryI read it super-quick because I just couldn’t put it down.** The story gripped me and held me tight, not wanting to let me go. Since I finished it a few weeks ago, I’ve really struggled with exactly what I wanted to say about it. I want people to know how great it is, and well-written.

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Uses For Boys begins when Anna is a very young girl, living with her mother. From a very young age, Anna’s mother leaves her alone for periods of time while she is out looking for men – men to make her feel complete, to round out her family. At first, Anna’s mother leaves for only a few hours, but this soon progresses to her staying out overnight, leaving Anna completely alone. Before long, Anna becomes accustomed to being home alone for several nights at a time. She only sees her mother when she briefly stops home to change clothes, re-pack her suitcase, and give Anna money to buy groceries. Anna never has a good, healthy, consistent male role model/father figure to look up to. Worse still, even though Anna has a mother present, she is unable to look up to her or build a relationship with her because of her mother’s near-constant absence.

Let’s rewind a bit — In her mother’s absence, Anna still goes to school like other kids. Friendships come and go, just as with other kids. And just like with other girls, Anna discovers boys. At first, one boy gives her attention and they have a brief boyfriend-girlfriend ‘relationship.’ After that relationship ends, there are others. Anna finds that she is able to get the attention she desperately craves in the boys she easily finds anywhere she looks. These relationships are not healthy – certainly not – but Anna has no idea what a healthy relationship looks like. But then Sam comes along. Sam, like a starry sky and a breath of fresh air. Sam is different and this changes Anna’s life. 

Sam is a normal boy from a normal family. He knows love and respect from his own family, so he knows how to show these things to other people. He knows acceptance from other people, so he knows how to give it away. Sam is not any of the things that every single person in Anna’s life has ever been to her. Anna learns the meaning of family, and this begins to change everything about Anna for the better, and it is awesome.

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Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt hooked me right away. It was not the easiest book I’ve ever read, but it is captivating and there is excellence and beauty in the story. This is the story of a young girl with an undesirable beginning and adolescence – but the feeling of hope at the end is so big it left me feeling good and happy and complete. 
As I was reading, I couldn’t help but become emotionally invested in some of these characters. I was more than unhappy with the choices Anna’s mother made with regard to taking care of her daughter – leaving her alone, etc. – because this obviously translated to some of the behaviors Anna picked up on as she grew into a young adult, having to learn to live on her own. Anna had no well-rounded family or even single-parent role model to pattern her behavior after, so she acted poorly. Anna wavered back and forth between not trusting and trusting too easily. Her decisions were just…not good. She made a lot of unhealthy, undesirable choices and my heart broke for her as she had to face the consequences of these choices time and time again. There were also times when I was angry at her because, well, she knew better! At some point, however, there is a time when you realize you are making decisions that aren’t so great (read: BAD) and learn from them and clean up your behavior a little bit. Anna had a couple of close calls and ended up being a very lucky girl more than once. 

When Sam entered the story, it was like the sun finally coming out on an overcast day. He was written as such a great guy – not perfect, but sort of an all-around guy-next-door. Coming from a stable family, he really couldn’t relate to Anna on many levels at all, but he liked her and he was able to see the positive in her – and she had never ever experienced anyone that saw good things in her before. Not only could Sam see good things in her, but his family could, and they were encouraging to her and this transformed her. I’m not saying that once Anna found Sam, life was perfect and everything is happily ever after. But the transformation in Anna’s character was wonderful, such a hopeful, positive development, that when I closed the book, I smiled and was happy. 

Uses For Boys has a writing style that I love. The author writes in short chapters, short sentences, short thoughts. I love this because I feel like this structure of the story matched Anna’s thoughts and movements and feelings – choppy and detached from emotion, as if she were moving through life without any meaning (until she met Sam). The story is one that is believable and most likely all-too-true in many instances, which makes it so heartbreaking. I wanted a better life for Anna, but I also wanted better lives for all of the negative influences that would breeze in and out of her life.

This book is thought-provoking while telling its story. I know that my words will not do the book justice. I know that some will read this and think that this book isn’t for them. I am so glad that I took a chance on Uses For Boys because I loved it and I loved the ending. 

I recommend Uses For Boys to readers who love YA contemporary with issues. There are scenes involving mature content, so younger readers – be smart when choosing this one! 

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Uses For Boys will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary, Issues-Heavy
Coming-of-Age Stories
Romance – Slowly Developing, No Triangle

Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

will be available for purchase on January 15, 2013.

**Young Readers!
You need to make sure you’re mature enough for this one!**

**I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you St. Martin’s and NetGalley!

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Is USES FOR BOYS on your to-read list? 

**Seriously, I read almost half of the book in my car in the garage, ready to run a few errands…but I just couldn’t stop reading long enough to crank up the car and do what I needed to do. So I just sat there, outside, in the car. And read. Until I finished the book. And it was good.

Asheley

About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!

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20 responses to “My Thoughts On: Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

  1. Seriously, I read almost half of the book in my car in the garage, ready to run a few errands…but I just couldn't stop reading long enough to crank up the car and do what I needed to do. So I just sat there, outside, in the car. And read. Until I finished the book. And it was good. – Wow, that is good if you read half of it in the garage when you attempting to run errands. High praise!

    Everyone is so hyped about this book and the reviews I've read have been pretty positive so that gives me high hopes, plus the premise sounds great. I can't wait to meet the boy-next-door type, Sam. He sound great.

    Uses For Boys sure is on my to-read list and I'm looking forward to reading it!

  2. WOW. This one looks intense. But also really great. I think it's one that I would have to gear myself up to read. I really love books with beautiful language, and when there is true growth and change by the MC. I like that Sam is just a nice normal guy too. Also, the fact that this story grips me from start to finish, is a big recommend!

    • It is intense, Lauren, but it is HOPEFUL and there is positive development in Anna – so if you go into it knowing that perhaps that would make it easier for you. This language is very candid and to-the-point, and yet it is lovely. The story is a bit heartbreaking up to a point, like it is in real life for so many people. But then things change up a bit. I was completely gripped. Sitting in the car with my coat on, gripped. A CONTEMP, even. Issues-heavy. Absolutely loved it for the honesty and writing and great writing.

  3. Oh, god, Asheley, I am going to make this like my 3rd must read Netgalley book this month because the way you describe the relationship and Sam changing Anna for the better really catches my eye and oh my goodness it makes me SO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK.

    Sigh. I just love the way you write reviews. They pretty much convince me every single time.

  4. Oh wow, this sounds SO GOOD. I loved the cover, but I wasn't too sure I wanted to dive in and read it. Now though, after seeing your review, I really want to check it out! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Thank you so much! It took me a long time to organize my thoughts and even still I'm not sure I'm doing the book any kind of decent justice. It's such a great book. And the cover is so beautiful – I just love it so much! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. Your review had me at that cover! How pretty. And I love the premise behind this one. I don't know that I've seen another contemp tackle this issue before. Wonderful review, I'll def. be bookmarking this one for (finger-crossed!) some holiday B&N gift cards. Thanks!

    • Hey Sara! I hope you love this one! I was caught by the cover too. So pretty! But the story stands alone, even without the beautiful cover. Such a great story and the author did a fantastic job with tackling it and not leaving us completely drained after reading the book. Anna's story has an upward curve at the end with the addition of Sam, which is really nice.

  6. Your's is the first review of this book I have read, and it's been on my TBR list for so long (mostly because of that gorgeous cover!) But now that I read your review I am even more convinced that I was justified in adding it.

    As I read your review, I was reminded of "What Happens Next" by Colleen Clayton. Not in terms of dysfunctional families, but in terms of significant character growth with the help of an awesome boy (and family, his, in the case of Uses for Boys.) I really loved What Happen's Next so I think I would love this one as well. Plus you know how I like those flawed, "bad" girls in books:)

    Awesome review!

    • Oh, you'll like this one. Anna is so flawed, so troubled. Her coming-of-age doesn't start out so great and she has such a tough time, but she's a tough cookie and does the 'best she can' which is a bit frustrating at times, but SO realistic – which is what I loved and appreciated about this story. No sugarcoating. No beating around the bush. No holding the hands of the reader. The language is candid, in-your-face, very real and I loved it. It's just a remarkable debut and I am so proud to have it here on the blog.

      I've heard of What Happens Next and you're right, I do think that there are similarities, as best as I can tell. I haven't read Clayton's book yet but I do want to. I'm pretty sure you'll love Uses For Boys and even though I know your TBR is probably just like mine, it is a worthy add, a quick read, an absolutely noteworthy debut.

  7. I was so disappointed when I read your review only to realize I have to wait TWO MONTHS to read this! GAH. So excited, though. That cover is so enticing and Anna sounds like one of those characters I'd just want to take in and take care of. I love the book's not all sad & that she meets Sam, who sounds like a sweetheart. Great review, Asheley! 🙂

    • It's worth the wait, Randi! The cover is indeed enticing – they have a great marketing team. I also wanted to take Anna in and take care of her – her story is so compelling and REAL, and that's why I was so drawn to it. PLUS this author wrote it so candidly. I felt like she was trusting me as a reader to be able to handle to hard truths of Anna's life, and I loved that. It was lovely, particularly with the hope I felt after I finished it. I am not being melodramatic at all when I say that I couldn't put it down.

  8. Wow Asheley! Way to make me want a book! I know what I'm buying on January 15th. This had not been on my radar. Now I can't wait to read it with my sisters. Thanks:)

    • Yay! You're welcome! I love that you can read with your sisters – how fun. This is SUCH a discussable book too. I think there will be parts that you'll love and parts that will make you have some righteous anger, which is what made me like it so much. So well-written with lovely hope at the end. 🙂

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