Uses for Boys

Uses for Boys

3.3 (1,832 ratings by Goodreads)

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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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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Paperback | 229 pages
  • 141 x 209 x 17mm | 204g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1250007119
  • 9781250007117
  • 593,326

Review quote

"I wish every young woman could gain the wisdom found in these pages. Quiet. Stark. Possibly life changing." --Ellen Hopkins, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of the Crank trilogy

"Many girls will relate to the fact that 'there are no fathers in this story'... Scheidt's spare and poetic debut offers up pretty images for some decidedly unpretty situations ('the unmade bed is peaked and stormy'); at times, her prose feels as tightly wrought as a novel in verse. This is a story about where we come from, and how, sometimes, we have to break free from the past in order to shape our own future... Lots of teens will see themselves in the pages of this beautiful, honest novel." --Booklist (Starred Review)

"Like its narrator, Uses for Boys is poetic, sensual, edgy and strong. Captivated, I finished it in two sittings and sobbed at the end." --Francesca Lia Block, New York Times bestselling author of Weetzie Bat and I was a Teenage Fairy

"If somebody had handed me this book when I was fifteen, I would have felt 75% less alone and 100% less crazy." --Pam Houston, award-winning author of Cowboys Are My Weakness and Contents May Have Shifted

"Some writers know how to make something terribly complicated and true...simple. That's what Erica Lorraine Scheidt does in Uses for Boys. With stark, lucid prose, she hones in on that experience we girls know well: we believe boys will fill our emptiness." --Kerry Cohen, author of Loose Girl
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About Erica Lorraine Scheidt

As a teenager, ERICA LORRAINE SCHEIDT studied writing at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University and later received an MA in creative writing from University of California, Davis. Now a teaching artist and longtime volunteer at 826 Valencia, Erica works with teen writers in the San Francisco Bay Area. She's a 2012 Artist in Residence at Headlands Center for the Arts and is currently at work on a second novel for young adults.
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Rating details

1,832 ratings
3.3 out of 5 stars
5 20% (368)
4 25% (467)
3 28% (519)
2 17% (311)
1 9% (167)

Our customer reviews

(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. Her mother has always told her that she is everything to her, and when her mother then tells her that she's tired of being alone, she breaks Anna's heart. Anna and her mother have always been everything to each other, and when her mother goes out looking for someone else, she doesn't realise that not only is she leaving Anna alone, she's also making Anna feel as if she's not good enough. Anna's mother sees quite a lot of different men, and Anna has several step-fathers in a relatively short space of time. She doesn't get why she's not enough for her mother anymore, and longs to be back wrapped in her mother's arms, in her mother's bed, being told that she is her everything. That isn't going to happen though, so when boys start showing an interest in her, and she feels what it's like to feel wanted again, Anna takes what comfort she can. Anna loses her virginity at a young age, she's later the victim of a sexual assault, and as boys let her down she moves on to another. Anna seems to always be let down in some way though, and her lack of a mother really shows at times. This book really shows how Anna's mother's lack of love and support for her daughter affect her both emotionally and physically, and how different Anna's life might have been had she had a mother who was there for her. Now, the ending! I enjoyed this book, but I have a problem with books that don't have endings. This book had an ending of a sort - Anna had matured, she'd learned some things, she'd grown as a person, but there was still so much left, so many unanswered questions, that as much as I liked this book, I can't bring myself to like the ending. Anna still has issues with her mother, she still has issues with her best friend, and she still has issues with boys. Although she has learned some things about herself, she still has so much more to learn, and so much further to go. Anyway, apart from the slightly lacking ending this was a good book, and it was beautifully written. I found it really engaging, and didn't want to put it down. It was also just the right length - not too long or too short, and I really felt like I connected with Anna. Overall; an enjoyable book about a young girls life growing up, and her search for love and affection. 8 out of more
by Sarah Elizabeth
This is a mature book, with sad themes laced with hope especially at the end. This is not light, not fluffy, and the beautiful cover fits in some ways but if you go in expecting any thing except dark and gritty, you are probably going to be disappointed. That said, I don't think I even had seen the cover when I read the blurb, but I knew that it would be a book for me. I just wanted to make clear so that it is not an issue for those who might be expecting something else. Anna, the main character grows and learns so much about herself and life in this book. Just when I started to feel sorry for her or get disappointed in her she would start to change and realize things about herself and those around her. I see so much of myself in her, lonely and looking for love in all the wrong places until things finally clicked. Having the right people and some of the people who had been in my life but I finally realized their value or the pain that they themselves are dealing with and they also need a little love and support. Sam is so innocent and so whose all at the same time and I love how he saw through her problems to the person she was inside. I also loved reading about his family especially his sister and his mom. She is so involved and had so much to offer, I ish there were more like her in ya lit. Anna really breaks my heart how distant and absent her mom was, but it is the sad reality for so many people, and I think that her story can help them feel less alone. And hopefully can also teach from her mistakes, and open eyes to some dark issues. There is many places where I just wanted to hug her and especially one spot where I wish I could open her eyes and make her see that it is not her fault. Bottom line gritty contemporary with dark themes about the reality of life both good and bad, through love friendship.and the choices we all more
by Brandi Kosiner (Brandi Breathes Books)
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