Goodreads Summary: 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, bringing 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.Goodreads /Amazon
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 is a story of breaking down and growing up.
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
First Line: "In the happy times, in the tell-me-again-times, when I'm seven and there are no stepbrothers and it's before the stepfathers, my mom lets me sleep in her bed."
Favorite Quote: “And then he hugs me. Really hugs me. Like he thinks that there's only one of me and I'm special and I'm enough for him. Like he doesn't need anything else. Like he was alone and then I came along.”
When I first read the summary and title of Uses for Boys, I assumed it was a light contemporary read. But then I starting seeing a lot of reviews from different people saying that wasn't the case, that this story was a lot darker than you would think at first. So I didn't go into this completely blind; I was prepared for the grittiness that was to come. The cover, while beautiful, is kind of misleading in how happy it looks.
I enjoyed the way the book was written; everything was fairly simple and to-the-point. Uses For Boys was a very quick read - it's pretty short. I was a little surprised at the graphic way a lot of the sex scenes are described. On one hand, I feel that a lot of what happened was very realistic, even if it was difficult to read about at certain points in the novel. I just felt it was a little over-the-top for a young adult book, but that's just my opinion.
There were bits and pieces in the story that felt really raw and real to me, which was why I read it mostly in one night. For the most part I felt compelled to find out what happened to Anna, but at the same time I never really connected with her. I could definitely feel sympathy towards her and her situation, but personally I felt like she did a bunch of just plain odd things. I also feel she went to extremes a lot of the time, and wished she would maybe try to handle her problem differently. I'm finding it really hard to express my feelings towards her. I know that she wanted attention that she didn't get from her mother, so she sought it out from boys. I just didn't understand her throughout the book, and the rest of the characters were difficult to care about, the way they dropped in and out of the plot so much.
And I don't totally understand what happened with Anna's friend Toy. (view spoiler). I also felt like Uses for Boys could have used a better ending. It stopped so abruptly that I didn't feel like I got any sense of closure at all. It was like it stopped in the middle of scene and that was just that. I mean, I can easily see Anna reverting back to doing the same things she was doing before. Sam could easily be just another boy she eventually grows tired of; he didn't seem any different from Josh or Joey or anyone else besides having a decent family.
Complaints aside, I did enjoy the book. I'm not sure if I would recommend it - I guess it would really depend on who was asking, because I completely understand why Uses For Boys has gotten such mixed reviews. It's definitely a book for certain people.
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