Thursday, January 10, 2013

ARC Review: Uses for Boys

Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
3/5 stars
St. Martin's Press, 2013
227 pages
YA Contemporary
Scheduled for release January 15

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Before starting this book, I read one mostly positive and one negative review, linked to below, which left me very nervous especially because both emphasized that the contents of the story were far darker than what the cover suggests. I thought the book would feature a young promiscuous woman struggling to fill gaps in her life with boys but eventually coming to a greater revelation about life. I did not feel like that happened and I will have to agree with the negative side. I like books that are uplifting, ending on a positive note with the main character out of the dire circumstances that characterized most of the book and I didn't feel like this book entirely achieved that.

The book starts when Anna is young and it's just her and her mother and that's all it needs to be. But her mother disagrees and a string of stepfathers and boyfriends parade through their life as Anna is increasingly left alone by her mother. So she turns to boys, earning a reputation before meeting her best friend Toy who seems to attract boys in a much deeper way than Anna. Then Anna meets Sam who seems like the perfect boy with the perfect family Anna always wanted; can she hold on to them?

I'll admit that I never really felt connected to Anna. See I'm more of a Sam with pretty much the perfect family (and I'm not just saying that because my mom reads my blog ;) Even though our circumstances are vastly different, I still anticipated being able to feel something for Anna but it never really happened. Not even during an event that I would imagine generated a lot of emotions but was played off very coolly. Whenever I have trouble connecting with the main character, I struggle with the book

Additionally there are an awful lot of sexual acts in this book-because of that, it might even be more like New Adult than Young Adult especially since Anna drops out of school to work and make her own way in the world. I prefer more chaste stories in my young adult books. Saying that, even those scenes were narrated pretty dispassionately in my opinion, furthering the distance between reader and Anna.

Warning: Sexual content as well as drug use; I would definitely recommend this only for the mature teen and adults.

Other Opinions:
Blkosiner's Book Blog-first warned me that the contents were darker than the cover suggests
Great Imaginations-did not connect with this book at all


  1. Ah, I'm much the same as you, but this counts as two negative reviews... hmmm, I don't think I'll like this one.

  2. I really loved this one, but it wasn't necessarily for characterization in this case. I loved it because I thought the writing style was really great - choppy, clipped phrases mixed in with the prose (just like with Being Henry David by Cal Armistead and Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara - both of which I also liked). I tend to think in that same odd structure, so I liked that style. Plus somehow I felt like it gave insight to Anna's mixed thoughts and mixed-up life, and I loved the short chapters as well. Anna's life was a bit of a mess, and while I cringed at much of what was written, I liked the brutal honesty of what was on the pages and feel like it is all-too-likely that this is far too common in our society today. I couldn't put this one down. And I felt hope at the end, which made me feel like the book ended on a positive note. It's always so interesting when different people can read the same book and see different perspectives in it.

    I wish that somehow the cover had been incorporated into the story or something - it is really lovely. It is what drew me to the book, actually. To find that it wasn't in the story was a little disappointing.

    Thanks for your thoughts! I love an honest review. :)

  3. I'm not sure about this book - I tend to struggle with characters like Anna who are looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places because I just want to reach in and hug them and tell them they'll never find what they're looking for the way they're going about it. But, of course, it's something they have to learn on their own and it's always hard for me to have to read about. Really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this one!

  4. Good point about maybe being NA. I really liked Sam and his family too though.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  5. I just finished this a couple days ago and I had some of the same impressions as you. Review up on Saturday.

  6. I've meant to read this book but it may take awhile. it's too bad you didn't connect to the main character. It's nearly impossible to get into a book if you can't feel for the protag. Even if a person is mean, if I can understand why they are the way they are I can connect to a well written character. If I can't, it's very hard

  7. Hmm I got a copy of this one from net galley too, but I'm not sure I'll read it. I like uplifting books too. This reminds me too much of Something Like Normal in terms of style and theme...and I didn't care for that book.

  8. I just saw someone else review this and was wondering if I'd like it or not... I'm not sure I if I would still! With so many books to read I'll probably pass on it for now and just leave it in the background in case I need something later.

  9. I'm sorry this didn't work for you, but if you like more chast titles for your YA, it makes sense. Personally, I don't mind darker or grittier novels and I want the idea of New Adult to it sounds like I might really enjoy this one. Thanks for the warnings, though. Always appreciated to see if a title is right for certain people.

    I love the cover, actually, but you're right...makes it seem like a lighter book than it is!

  10. I don't mind grittier novels or even with a bit of sexual stuff, but I do cringe a bit and I think it's mostly the mother in me. As a teen it wouldn't have bothered me.
    I had some mixed feelings with this book. I thought it was wrote beautifully and I appreciate the honesty the author put into it. This happens and she didn't tone it down. I didn't really connect with the characters, but for the writing style it wasn't really a big negative. I guess I was okay with it.

  11. Well, now I've heard two negative reviews and no good ones. I think I'll skip this one even if the cover is beautiful.

  12. I had a really hard time with this one. My review went up a few days ago, and I pretty much feel the same way. I really think it should be for older teens for sure. Great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  13. First, I want to thank you for the linkback. I am glad you found something of value in my review because I felt really bad about writing this one. I completely agree with you. I didn't enjoy this book at all. Between the explicit sex and the lack of connection to the protagonist, this just was a book that completely did not work for me. I would never wish that reading experience on anyone, but I am glad to see I am not alone in feeling this way. Great review!

  14. I love the cover and the title, but it seems like this book wasn't really a hit with most people. I still want to give it a shot though, but I'll make it a library book rather than one I buy. Thanks for the honest review!

  15. I keep reading that this book isn't what it seems, based on the cover and synopsis, but I think your review has cemented it. I have this one, but I think I'm going to move it down to the bottom of the pile...I HAVE to connect with the characters to really enjoy a book. Thanks for the honest review!

  16. Narrated dispassionately is a really good description. It really separated the readers from the situation. This one was a tough one. I both liked it and hated it. :)

  17. I loved Sam! Sorry though you didn't connect with Anna.
    Lovely review.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog


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