February 18, 2013

Book Review: Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Welcome to another Free-Form Review!!!

Today's book is called Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt.  The book tells the story of Anna over the course of about a dozen years, starting when she was about six and ending when she's about 18.

There was a time when Anna and her mother were close as they could be. They lived in a small apartment and didn't have a lot of money, but they had each other and they were happy... until she was about seven and Anna suddenly wasn't enough to keep her mother happy and she started dating one guy after another.

After seeing her mother get in and out of so many relationships - getting married and divorced a few times, and moving about - Anna starts to have a very strange relationship toward boys and men and life in general.

She often lets guys use her, and she is whatever they want her to be, after the first guy - who basically feels her up in the bus and makes her touch him while his friends watch - Anna just goes with the flow, making each new guy she meets the center of her whole world, while engaging in destructive behavior at the same time - mostly sleeping around.

As she grows older the situations escalate and she grows more distant from her family and from all sense of normalcy.

The story was kind of hard to read, there was a part of it that was very emotional and I really felt for Anna in some ways, particularly when she was younger and trying to make sense to her mother's abandonment - her mom is in my Top Five Worst Parents in YA, easily - but as the time pases, the very way the narrative is constructed makes Anna sound so distant that by the end she doesn't quite feel real.

I get that it's a coping mechanism on her part, but still. Plus, she's not the most sympathetic of characters - this may be totally personal since I just don't get the way she flings herself at guys because it's not something I would ever do though I know a few people who do live like she does in the story- so she was hard to simply like and, at times, it's uncomfortable to read.

Also, the cover is a little misleading, I was sort of expecting something lighter, yeah maybe about a girl who had made a few mistakes but eventually meets a good guy, a good group of friends or something and her life gets better, this book is a lot more gloomy than that and though the ending of the book could be constructed as hopeful, it was kind of too little too late.

Uses for Boys isn't an easy read, it's uncomfortable in the same way I often find Sarah Zarr's books uncomfortable, making me think about things I sometimes rather not think about; but Scheidt lacks Zarr's compelling narrative. It's not a long book but by the end it feels that way. 

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