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Uses for Boys Paperback – 15 Jan 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 229 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Griffin (15 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250007119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250007117
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 1.7 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,446,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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, brining 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.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on 23 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley.)
8-year-old Anna lives with her mother. She's never known her father, but it doesn't matter, because her mother tells her a story that makes her feel loved - `I had no mother, I had no father, all I wanted was a little girl, and then I had you, and I had everything.'

But then Anna's mother starts going out on dates and leaving Anna alone, feeling like she's no longer enough for her mother, no longer her everything. Then come a succession of step-fathers and step-brothers, but eventually they all leave, and Anna is alone with her mother once more.

By the time she's 14, Anna barely sees her mother who breezes in and out of the house for clean clothes, and she begins to look for love and affection elsewhere. Thus Anna's story about boys begins - how they make her feel when their hands are on her, how sex makes her feel wanted again.
But are boys and sex any substitute for a loving mother? Where will Anna's life go from here?

I have to say that I enjoyed this book, I even wanted to give it a higher rating, but the ending meant that I couldn't

This book wasn't really what I was expecting at all. Reading the blurb for this book and seeing the cover had me anticipating a girly YA romance story, which wasn't really what this book was about. Yes there were boys, and yes there was mention of love and sex, but this wasn't really a romance, this is more about Anna's life, and life choices, and how her absentee mother affects her thoughts and decisions.

Anna really feels abandoned when her mother begins dating.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Fiction_Fan on 24 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
Uses for Boys begins in quite a sad way, with Anna wanting to go back to the days where her mother was so happy to have a little daughter and for that daughter to be everything she ever needed. However, the story quickly changes as Anna grows older and her mother moves on. Quickly, Anna is left on her own when her mum goes from man to man, always being with someone new and relationships never lasting long at all - even if she marries the man. I actually lost count of how many times her mum got remarried throughout this story. I hated the example that Anna's mum set for her.

Then there is Anna herself. As her mum leaves her alone to go off with random men, she does whatever the hell she wants, which includes bringing boys home to have sex with at the age of 13/ 14. Although teenagers do have sex at a young age, and this is no secret, I do not think that way in which the subject was approached was appropriate at all. If it wasn't bad enough that Anna was doing these things at such a young age, she doesn't stop nor think there is anything wrong at all. The whole time we follow Anna in this book, she sleeps with numerous boys and doesn't really care how she treats them, and is treated by them.

In regards to writing style, Uses for Boys is very simple and if I hadn't known the age this was aimed at, I would have said it was aimed at a younger audience. This is only in the style of the writing though, not the actual words which are quite shocking if I'm honest. I do feel as though some of the content was used to shock rather than for it to be meaningful in any way. I think the plot could have been something amazing, if done slightly differently and written slightly different. There was definitely promise behind the basic idea but I don't think it was done to its full potential.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 65 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
For fans of Jim Carroll's The Basketball Diaries 15 Jan. 2013
By Jenna Detrapani - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
USES FOR BOYS by Erica Lorraine Scheidt is a book that I recommend for highly mature teens aged 13 and up. Otherwise, the material within this book may not be suitable for those under the age of 16. (Just a personal opinion.)

That being said, when I received a copy of this book from the publisher I reflected back to what I had heard of the story from fellow blogging friends thus far: "It was not what I expected, "there was no romance," and "the cover is deceiving"... Now, after having read the book, I agree that all of the above statements are true... for those who nothing about the book aside from its cover. I'll admit, I was wary to read the book and at first I thought that the publisher was simply daring me to read it. "...Double dog dare you!" But, oh, am I GLAD I took them up on that dare!

Knowing what I did about the book prior to reading, I had no ill conceived notions about what to expect - and that, I believe, is what allowed for a more unbiased and open-minded reading experience.

What I got out of reading USES FOR BOYS was a highly thoughtful, wonderfully plotted story about a girl (she could even be the girl next door) who learns to respect - not necessarily herself - but the relationships she has with the people in her life.

There are no fairy tale romances or or insightful revelations in this book. There probably won't even be any tears shed, though the story will pack a fairly powerful punch. The power of the book lays in Anna's defeated voice, in its unforgiving honesty and in the gut wrenching, raw emotions that it will make you feel. Often, your reactions to the book may not be positive, since much of the story involves an excessive use of drugs and alcohol, as well as the topics of rape and self-deprecation. The contents of the book may disturb some readers.

I would compare USES FOR BOYS to the 1987s book The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll. Similar both in tone and the nature of the story - USES FOR BOYS will likely appeal to the same audience.

The book is written as though Anna's very thoughts have composed the story. It progresses in short, choppy sentences and sometimes with just as short and choppy chapters. But there is a rhythm to this madness, and the story progresses at an appropriate pace regardless of its haphazard and unconventional writing style. I think that is what I liked best about the story. I felt like I was inside Anna's confused little mind.

What I liked least were the characters themselves. Simply because I never was That Girl - the girl who can't grasp the meaning of her relationships and does not understand the natural progression of growing up, nor have much respect for herself or others. I DID have a childhood, unlike Anna. I also have a very loving family. Because of this, I couldn't entirely connect with the characters - and I couldn't help but see their actions as stupid, selfish and reckless. But there are girls out there who WILL connect. They will see this story as a sort of testament. Whereas I see it as a sad fact of life.

The differences in how one will relate to the story may have an effect on one's overall enjoyment of USES FOR BOYS. I have a fairly open mind when it comes to the fiction I read. I like both sweet and touching stories that are full of "feels" - and I like raw and disturbing stories that are full of a totally different kind of "feel". This book falls more in the second category of "raw" and "disturbing". It is no less of a book than the first category, but USES FOR BOYS is definitely for an open-minded reader.

USES FOR BOYS comes to a fairly open-ended, albeit satisfying, conclusion. In the end, I am glad that I have read this book and would recommend it to any young woman who has lost her focus in life. Or, if you like your fiction to be a little bit disturbing and unforgiving, you might want to give this book a chance, as well.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Personally I just couldn't handle this book... 2 Mar. 2013
By Gretchen @ My Life is a Notebook - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Griffin for this eARC! This title is now available.

CONTENT WARNING: If you are the kind of person who doesn't like graphic sex in your books ... look elsewhere. This review will also be discussing this, so ... fair warning. THERE WILL BE ALL OF THE SPOILERS because I can't even handle what happened.

When I read this blurb, I had my assumptions about this book. I was expecting a broken girl meets a good guy and everything is happiness and puppies until something happens and then they break up and then they realize their love for each other and then get back together. You know, the basic plot of every romance story ever. What with the beautiful cover and the promise of "lyrical" prose, I thought that's what HAD to be going on here.


Okay, lyrical yes. And that's the only reason for that half star, there. Scheidt does have a way with words I can't deny. Fair warning, though, that's going to be about the only good thing I say about this book. I try to keep it SO BALANCED in my reviews, usually, but this one ... I just can't do it.

Let's talk about Anna, first. Anna is the most passive, depressed child I've ever met, who is so obsessed with sex I can't even. I'll mention this again, but you should know right now that most of this book takes place when Anna is 14 to 16 years old. BUT SHE'S SO OBSESSED WITH SEX. Also, also, back to the passive part. Anna doesn't give the air of DOING much in this book at all. She basically just drifts through life, magically always finding another guy to sleep with her when she gets bored. And each one of them is more of a horrible person than the last, until Sam. But still. I couldn't help but hate her from page one, because she doesn't DO ANYTHING.

So, basically, the whole first part of the book is about how Anna's mom does nothing but chase guys around her entire life. She gets married, they move, she gets divorced, etc. Anna is always lonely and hates her life. Then, one day, on the bus, this guy named Desmond starts playing with her breasts and she lets him, disconnectedly looking out the window the whole time, until she jumps off at her bus stop without even reacting to the whole thing. A couple of bus rides later, Desmond has brought his two friends in on the fun, and everyone in school is calling Anna a slut because she's letting these boys do whatever they want under her shirt. SHE IS THIRTEEN AT THIS POINT.

Then Anna gets a boyfriend. His name is Joey, and without any preamble he starts spending every day after school at her house, having sex. Seriously. A recurring theme with the guys in this book is that they give their name and then there is sex. There is no in between. There are lots and lots of sex, some happy feelings, and then Joey announces he's moving away. Anna has sex with him one last time, and then he's gone. Bam. SHE IS FOURTEEN AT THIS POINT.

Then Anna's mom finally remembers her daughter exists and takes her on vacation with her and her current boyfriend. At this point I was like, FINALLY SOME GOOD THINGS. But that's a lie. There are no good things. During a party at the house of Anna's new friend, this guy named Todd starts messing with her breasts without asking. Anna's friend tells him to go away, but this just makes Anna moody. That night, Todd creeps in to her room in the middle of the night and rapes her. Yes, rapes her. Covers her mouth with his hand and everything. After it's over, the only other mentions of Todd are Anna missing him. Then the fact that she was raped just disappears. THERE IS NO AMOUNT OF CAPS THAT CAN EXPLAIN HOW I FEEL ABOUT THIS. Fine, maybe the fact that she wants to believe he really liked her is a PTSD thing. But IF YOU INCLUDE RAPE, IT CANNOT BE A PLOT CONVENTION. It cannot be a thing that just happens and then life goes on like la-dee-da. Just-I can't explain how angry this made me.

Some times passes, and then Anna meets Josh. They have sex, and a few pages later they're moving in together. I think Anna's 16 or 17 by this point. She drops out of school and starts working at a coffee shop. Then she realizes she's pregnant and goes to have an abortion. Yep, yep, exactly what I just said. There is pregnancy and there is an abortion. That happened. By this point, I just can't even any more.

Josh and Anna break up really soon after the abortion, and Anna moves in on her own. AT SEVENTEEN. She has a couple of one nights stands with random dudes and then she meets Sam. Sam is the most normal guy in this book. He's 17 and sweet to Anna. For at least a couple of pages it's not about sex. Then it's about sex again, maybe just with a little more love. The thing is that the Sam thing is only a tiny bit of the book, not the bulk of it like I expected, and even during it Anna feels listless and passive. By this point, I don't think she can be repaired quite that easily.

I respect what the author was trying to do. I do-none of this is easy stuff to write about. But I still can't deny that I just felt sick to my stomach for this entire book. The rape, the abortion, the sex and everything in between-I literally could barely handle it. I only finished it because I wanted to write my review with the whole picture, because I KNEW I had to say SO MANY THINGS about this book. Even now, I cannot believe what I read. Yes, I understand it's realistic. Yes, I understand the author was trying to present something other than the bright side of life. I respect the attempt, but I cannot in good faith give this book anything more than 1 1/2 stars and I certainly won't recommend it to anyone. I read books as an escape from this negativity, and when I put this book down I was depressed for two days. I haven't been this angry since Beautiful Disaster and Shattered Souls. Maybe this works for some people, but just certainly not for me.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Dark, Gritty and Lyrical 15 Jan. 2013
By xjessirae - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Uses for Boys starts off with a young girl remembering the life she had with her mother, when it was just the two of them and all her mother ever needed was her. As Anna grows up, the more her mother is gone. She no longer becomes everything her mother needs. Anna is left to grow up on her own. From there, we follow Anna jumping from guy to guy looking for the love and affection she has been lacking all her life. 

I thought Uses for Boys had an interesting and unique summary with even beautiful cover that really caught eye. I was eager to read and get my hands on such a book. I didn't know what to except when going into this novel, but I surely didn't expect to feel such turmoil and sadness for the main character. Erica Lorraine Scheidt wrote a novel that will surely capture an audience's attention and have readers wishing for something more for Anna.

Anna was searching for herself, for love and a real family that her mother couldn't give her. She thought she could find it in boys, but she continued to make wrong decisions and poor judgments. Her situation overall just really sucked. At first it was really hard to connect with Anna. I felt like she was in a haze the entire time and she was a little detached. But along the way, I got to know her and feel for her. Her innocence and her need for love was sad and made me pity her. I was able to sympathize with Anna immensely. I wanted to give her that love and connection she needed. I adored how Anna shopped at thrift stores and at Goodwill and was able to take those clothes and make it into a stylish outfit that made her stand out and be different. Although she was alone, she made herself into someone who was independent. She was able to become someone more than the girl in her mother's story.

The other characters in this book didn't stand out as much as I would have liked them to, but in a way this worked out for the best. This was Anna's story that needed to be told. We do get glimpses of each relationship Anna was in and we see how they treat her, how she treats them, and ultimately how they just don't work. When Anna finally meets Sam, someone who has a wonderful family life, Anna begins to see and open her eyes. Her relationship with Sam slowly builds up into something real, into something she has always wanted. It's beautiful and it's right.

The ending of the book leaves you hanging and questioning Anna's future. There is no resolution and it left you to wonder with your own imagination. Nothing is really explained and when Anna gets her epiphany moment, I hoped for more. Although I felt this way, I think the open-ending fits the story. Giving it something different may have taken away from the truth.

The writing in Uses for Boys was the driving force that kept me going in the book. Erica Scheidt style was different, something I wasn't used to, but it was true to the story and to Anna's voice. Schiedt does a great job with descriptions and vividness that truly puts you in Anna's shoes. I appreciated the simple style, the truth in which Schiedt told the story, and the pacing all together. It was lyrical and more memorable in more ways than one. 

I think Uses for Boys will be a story that many can connect with and relate to Anna. I enjoyed the dark, gritty and raw feel of it all and I believe others will too.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Lost 9 Feb. 2013
By M. Rodriguez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This was an incredibly hard read for me. It was at page 68 that I really wanted to abandon this read. After tweeting how difficult of a time I was having finishing and having my Twitter friends reassure me that I wasn't alone in feeling the way I did but that I should finish because it was a quick read, I decided to keep going.

This is definitely not what I was expecting. I definitely got suckered into this read by the very cute cover that is probably the most misleading part of this all and I definitely wasn't prepared for what I was getting into even after I read the synopsis.

Anna only ever wanted her mother's love. She felt, at a very young age, that her mother's love would be enough. Her father was non-existent, as was any other family, but Anna was OK with that because all she's ever known was her mother to begin with. Things go downhill when Anna's mom starts searching for love in all the wrong places and starts to jump from guy to guy, marriage to marriage and literally leaves Anna to raise herself.

Surprisingly, Anna realizes what her mother is in search of at a very young age but then begins to do the very same things her mother is doing. So our journey begins...

There is nothing cute about this read. There is nothing remotely mild or casual about this read. There should be warning labels all over this read.

Warning: There is explicit graphic sex, rape, abortion, lots of drugs, and uh, yeah, there's nothing uplifting about this book.

The writing is really simple and the chapters are short and to the point. This was good because you got the feeling of a quick read right away. With that said, Anna's voice starts off as a seven year old, hence the simplicity of the writing and pretty much continues in this voice for the entire book. There isn't much interaction with others and again her world is so immature that it's hard to see her grow at all.

I'm not a prude y'all. I really am not but there's a whole lot of sex in this book and in full out graphic detail. It made me, a 35 year-old, extremely uncomfortable. This should definitely be for mature readers and I would even say this is a New Adult novel and not a YA. It's just that strong.

With that said, I understand that this is supposed to be a story that is meant to shock its readers. I get that the author is trying to bring awareness to its readers who perhaps don't already know that girls or boys like the characters in this book exist and that there are really crappy lives like the ones in the book. The author was probably hoping the reader could take this story and break some cycles because there were lessons to learn from this read, becoming a better person walking away from this read. Great! However, my biggest pet peeve about some contemporary reads of this nature is that they DON'T convey the last part clearly. It's not even that the message is lost because the message was just not there. Let me try to explain myself. ..

Anna finally meets a "nice" boy with a "nice" family with all the right values and family love that she seeks. Sam goes to school and works hard at it. He also wants to take things slow with Anna because he's a virgin and wants to wait. Do you think Anna is motivated to go to school? No. Do you think she thinks Sam's intentions are admirable and different and nice? Nope... She pushes Sam to have sex with her and gets frustrated when he doesn't until he finally gives in... Bad things happen to Anna and Anna does bad things in turn. Do you think Anna feels bad for any of it? No, she doesn't. It's a "oh well" type of attitude. It's all very casual and little to no feeling or a reaction at all. It was as if the book was almost giving permission to do all these things with little consequence. This irks me!

Another thing...Not one adult in this book, and there were plenty of them, lifted a finger to help this child out. There were warning signs, there were adults that went through similar experiences and not one tried to help in some way.

I've worked with so many kids here in Chicago and have friends that work with kids at different capacities as well. We talk about some of the issues that are discussed in this book. We talk about how casual the kids nowadays take things and how sex, drugs, not going to school, dropping out, hanging out, experimenting and all that jazz, is totally the norm nowadays. We talk about how we can bring on change. How we can show them there are better ways to do things and to live.

*There is always one person that will help. The help might be limited but it would be something and a lot more than the adults in this book.*

I fear that books like this, unless they are read along with an adult who has common sense, won't be able to grasp that this crap is not normal, that it shouldn't be normal. I also fear that they'll walk away thinking "Oook... we see this all the time. What is so special about this?"

Things don't happen and you just say "oh well, s*** happens". No, s*** happens and you say "I won't let that happen again". To break the cycle one must see the change that brings on the break and then you have to actually witness the break. The break was not shown in Uses for Boys.

At the end I didn't feel uplifted. At the end of this book I felt spent. I was utterly sad for the girl in these pages, for teens who will read this book alone without guidance, for the real Annas of the world.

ARC was provided by St. Martin's Press via NetGalley.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful book that shouldn't go unnoticed 17 Jan. 2013
By Lori - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt is going to be a hard book for me to review. I really enjoyed it and I flew through, but it wasn't really what I was expecting. Maybe I should have read the summary more thoroughly because the clues are definitely there. This book has tough content. Some very touchy issues like teen sex are explored, but Scheidt's writing is gorgeous and breathtaking. She handles these taboo subjects with raw grace.

I knew girls like Anna when I was teenager. A very good friend in elementary and early middle school ended up like this by 8th grade. So Anna's logic and actions felt very realistic to me. Anna needs to feel not alone. Her mother is absent most of the time. She's off finding her next ex husband. So, Anna turns to boys for the love and the attention she isn't getting at home. You can guess where that leads. That's really what Uses for Boys is about. Anna struggles with her loneliness and fills that void with different boys. It's also about Anna growing up and learning to rely on herself instead of boys.

Uses for Boys isn't going to be for everyone. There's some very mature situations. Like I said before, I think Erica Lorraine Scheidt handles them with class. I predict that some readers will still have a problem with the mature content, but I don't think the story would pack the same punch without the details. Some of the scenes will knock the breath out of you because they are so powerful. As the reader you know that Anna is making horrible choices. It's impossible not to want to sit her down and tell her all the things her mother should have.

The writing is stunning. It's hard to believe that Scheidt is a debut author. I think Uses for Boys is a beautiful book that shouldn't go unnoticed. You should definitely give it a chance if it sounds like your kind of story.
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