Sunday, March 24, 2013

Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt (ARC)

Uses For Boys
Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Pub. Date: January 15, 2013

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.

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.
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***There are spoilers in this review, but as I would never recommend ANYONE reading this novel, it probably won't matter. Also, I'm a little mad right now, but I'm trying to draw back on the anger and inappropriate wordage and just be critical of substance.***

First off, let me say that I'm a little late to the party in terms of reviewing this ARC. By the time I began this, I had noticed that Uses For Boys was averaging around three stars. First reaction - that's not good. I opted not to read any of the reviews so it wouldn't taint my opinion going in. Also, I knew this book weighed heavily on sex, and I know from personal experience, that when you have a YA novel with descriptive sex, you can offend a lot of people who will one star your @ss. So, I figured that was probably the main offender for low ratings.
 
And there was definitely a lot of sexual activity - the pages were practically oozing with it. Now, I realize there are tons of girls in the world in her position, who are abusing drugs and alcohol and having sex at a very young age, who end up dropping out of school and leaving home. In that aspect, Uses for Boys was raw and on the mark. But it wasn't these things that bothered me (although it probably should have, but it's an honest representation for this kind of life, so I let it slide). What really bugged me about this novel was the Anna's attitude about sex.
 
I'm sorry, but this girl truly is a slut with major mental issues, with no one to blame but herself.
 
Yes, I understand that your mother was desperate to keep a man, that she married and divorced several times and step-fathers and step-siblings came and went. But there was no history of abuse, other than her mother reaching the point to where she hardly came home anymore. Bad, I know, but it's not like this girl had her new family members abusing her sexually or anything. So when she was on the bus in middle school, it disturbed me that she allowed a boy to just grab her breast and play with it on the school bus. Then, when she didn't object, she allowed him to go up her shirt so he could molest her while he forced her hand between his legs to jerk him off - all while his friends leaned over the seat to watch. Seriously. This is middle school. And it happened more than once. NO. NO. HELL NO! And when he grew tired of her, SHE MISSED HIS ATTENTION, so she found a new boy to do it for her. Again. Middle school. And this new boy she took home everyday and had sex with. Awesome.
 
Here's the part that really made me wanna smack the girl. Anna goes out to a party, gets drunk, and this post-high school guy spends the night pinching and twisting at her nipples. She doesn't want him to, but hey, it seems to be a normal occurrence for her, so the most she does is flick him off for doing it. So it's no wonder the guy finds her drunk @ss later to jump her. He pins her down and covers her mouth, and she hardly cares to put up a fight. And when he's done, he casually asks her not to say anything to anyone. Okay, is her reaction, like it was all nothing, and all she can do is obsess over why he never kissed her while doing her. ARE. YOU. F*CKING. MENTAL? WHO WANTS A RAPIST TO KISS THEM?!!! And why wouldn't you tell anyone?
 
Flash forward to a new guy she met, Anna decided that she was going to drop out of school and move in with him. They're both like fifteen or sixteen. Not only does her mother barely put up a fight, saying you're going to do what you want to do, but she even signs the form for her to drop out. Sure, her mom asks her every few months if she's ready to admit defeat and come back home, but it truly only bugs her when one of her own men find it awful that she's allowing her sixteen year old daughter to do it. But still, she doesn't force the minor's @ss home. Where is freaking CPS people? This kid gets her pregnant, and after the big A, she's ready to move on again.
 
I know, I know. What the hell kept me reading this story? I thought for sure something big was gonna happen that was going to make this girl see the light of day. That she'd learn some huge lesson to make the atrocities of her bad decision making more bearable. And when she met Sam, I thought, finally! A nice kid with a good family dynamic! Her salvation! But then she goes and does the same ol' shiz. After meeting Sam, he says he'll be gone for a week for Spring Break. So what does she do? She goes off to find a one night stand. Bitch. This sweet guy, who takes her home to have dinner with his family every night, adores her. He also happens to be a virgin and wants to wait. And yes, he knows that she's not a virgin, and he's okay with it. But Anna keeps pressuring the poor guy and he keeps asking her to slow down. They finally have sex; all the time of course, because she's got her own apartment now. But one day they decided to do the nasty at his place, get completely busted by his mom, who then asked her leave. His mother once told her she was strong and smart, so lying to them about not having sex when they were was a big let down. So what does our little Anna do now? She goes off to find a one night stand. <Gun to head - KAPOW!> SERIOUSLY! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!!
 
I'm thinking this is it. Anna's gonna learn her lesson now. She's going to be brave and go back to the house with her head held high, admit to everyone her faults, that she wants a family like theirs, that she wants to be the kind of person that deserves to have them. And does she do it? HELL IF IF KNOW! All we get is her going to the door, the little sister saying how worried the mother was about her (yeah, right) and the next thing we know she and Sam are walking back to her apartment. END STORY. SERIOUSLY? I read all that crap about a mental patient, and we get nothing? No face to face with the parents or talking it out with Sam? Not even a few sentences telling us what happened that convinced the parents to even allow their son to walk off to her apartment?! NO, NO, NO!
 
So in conclusion, this girl learned NOTHING in my opinion. She used boys for sex and to keep herself from being lonely. Had the author just given me that last scene where she proved that Anna was going to become something better than she was, I could've give this novel at least three stars. Now...I hate even giving it one. It disturbs me that much that this girl slutted around, got high, got drunk, and didn't change anything about herself moving forward. NO. NO. NO!

Oh, and about that lovely synopsis: 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. uh...no, actually, it doesn't. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose—and something to offer. (only a doped up crack head would agree with either of those statements) Real, shocking, uplifting, and stunningly lyrical, Uses for Boys is a story of breaking down and growing up. (she grew up in age, I'll give you that. And filling this novel with scenes that are shocking won't get this shipwreck to float).
 

ARC provided my St. Martin's Press for honest review.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Good for you for writing an honest review! *new follower*