November 27, 2012

Latest Read: Uses for Boys

Here are the basics ...
Book: Uses for Boys
Author: Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Site: http://www.ericalorraine.com/
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary

Summary:  Anna remembers a time before boys. When she and her mom were a family, them against the world. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage and Anna is left on her own. Until she 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. Then comes Sam, whose family eats dinner together, laughs, and tells stories.. and the truth about love becomes clear. Anna finally learns how it feels to have something to lose - and something to offer. (Adapted goodreads.com)

[Note: ARC c/o St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. Publication date: January 15, 2013.]
My thoughts…
The good: The author isn't afraid to be blunt about the loneliness and the ways in which Anna's life spirals out of control.  Her sexuality is exploited at the early age of 12 and let me tell you, the book gets uncomfortable real fast.  She's just SO young! But boys are already feeling her up on the bus, pressuring her to sleep with them. What's unnerving though is that she lets it happen.  In hindsight, I'm still not sure if it was her naivete or desperate desire to be wanted that led her down this path.  It's probably a mix of both.  But it's a dangerous, self-destructive path that leads her to some dark moments (this is an understatement!). I spent most of the book feeling sad for her.  I couldn't relate to her whatsoever and I think she made a lot of poor choices for reasons I can't understand but I kept hoping her situation would change.  She doesn't have a single person in her corner.  Her father has never been in her life, her mom is off doing goodness knows what and the one "best friend" she has? Well I saw her true colors from a mile away.  It was frustrating to me that Anna couldn't see this too.  But considering the many not-so-great boys she lets into her bed, she's not exactly the best judge of character. I think what struck me the most about her story was that I could see it being true. I have no doubt that there are girls in her exact position and it's really heartbreaking.

(Major) reservations: Even though Anna's story moved me, it was more the circumstances (and imagining her life) that had an effect on me and not so much the words.  Even though I'm sure the author's writing style will work for some people, I found that the perspective she chose put this wall between the myself and Anna.  You're rarely in her head and there's not much conversation to be had with the people in her life.  The author is just telling us all the things happening to Anna but I didn't feel as if I was experiencing it with her.  And when I read a book, I like to feel immersed in it.  In the characters, the environment. I just didn't feel connected.  My other issue was the lack of development with Anna. She just kept sinking deeper and deeper into this mess and she doesn't come to any real breakthroughs about her life (one beyond falling for a really nice guy) until the very end. I can appreciate an ambiguous ending but in this case, I would've preferred to see Anna take some real steps towards turning her life around.

Do I recommend?: I think it's 50/50 and it's mostly dependent on the writing style.  It is moving and sad so if you're interested, it could be worth a shot.  Regardless, it's definitely a fast read that will leave an impression.

Happy reading!

10 comments:

  1. Honestly, I really like fast reads. And I like books that make an impression. So, even though this seems painful because of what Anna goes through and how she copes, I think in the end I'll like it.

    BUT the whole walls thing has me feeling reservations about reading it too.

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    1. Yeah, even though the cause for her issues is obvious.. I didn't feel like I understood her. I just felt sorry for her. But if you're in the mood for a really fast read (I read this in one sitting!), I'd recommend borrowing it from the library when it comes out.

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  2. Wow, this sounds like it is a full on read, but you reviewed it so well. I think this is a book I must read

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    1. Aw thanks! It was a tricky review to write because it's a powerful story, I just wish it had been written a little differently. I hope you like it!

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  3. I've been having mixed feelings on whether or not I'll pick this up. Anna's story sounds intense, but I'm not sure how I'll deal with that wall.

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    1. Intense is a good word for her experiences! It's not a book where I feel like - omg you gotta read this now. But if you're the mood for a fast read, it's available at the library and you're still curious, it might be worth trying.

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  4. hmm...I'm not crazy about the thought of an ambiguous ending in this case either - what is the point of reading about this girl's awful life and the horrible decisions her circumstances have led her to if we aren't given more hope that she'll be able to turn things around?

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    1. Exactly! It ended on this ambiguous but trying to be hopeful note. But after everything she goes through, that wasn't good enough for me. I wanted her to actually DO something or maybe if the author had added an epilogue to show that her life had turned around.

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  5. It's hard for me to stay interested in a book if I can't connect with the main character at all. I've been eyeing this one out of curiosity for a while, but I think I'll set it aside for now...

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    1. Yeah I think it can wait. But if you have like a couple hours (not even) to spare and you already have it, then who knows? You might feel differently than I did haha. It just wasn't a favorite in my opinion.

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