Publisher: St. Martin's Press
First published: January 15th, 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.
I'd recommend this for an older audience (16+).
My Rating: 2.5 / 5
Turning out to be completely different than I expected, Uses for Boys still was a fast and easy read, but had many moments and scenes that disturbed me. Considering the almost explicit sexual content in some parts, I'd definitely recommend this for older teens.
... the plot and the narration:
Even before I started reading Uses for Boys, I knew that it wouldn't be a light contemporary read. I had heard that it can be slightly depressing and heart-breaking, but since I knew what to expect I didn't mind that. Of course I felt very sorry for Anna, who was simply trying to find someone she could call family. The first person narrator tells the story from her point of view and while it focuses very strongly on her thoughts and less on dialogues and "action", I found it quite easy to read.
Nonetheless I was very surprised by the amount of sexual content in Uses for Boys. I'm definitely not a prude and usually prefer more "grown up" Young Adult novels, but at times I was a little bit disturbed by certain scenes in this story. Considering Anna's life circumstances it's somewhat easy to understand that she's looking for love and approval in people she should have just ignored, but I'm not sure whether this is the right reading material for younger teens.
... the characters:
Anna thinks back to the first years of her life very positively, remembering a mother who loves her more than anything. But with her mother's continuous quest to find the love of her life, Anna starts to feel left alone. This makes her try to find love again, searching for the perfect boyfriend. While I definitely felt sorry for her, I sadly couldn't connect with her completely. I'm not sure though whether this is because of the slightly unusual style of narration or Anna's naivety. Sadly I could connect even less with the secondary characters, who we don't get to know very well thanks to the focus on Anna's point of view and emotions. To be honest, I wanted to hate most of them since only very few seemed to really care about the poor girl.
I'm not exactly sure how to categorize Uses for Boys. Considering Anna's age and the coming-of-age feeling to the story, I'd call it a Young Adult novel. But the sexual content is a little bit hard to ignore and would rather make me think of this as a mixture of Young and New Adult. All in all, it was a very easy and fast read, but it's definitely not one of my favorite books. Though if you're looking for something unconventional and unique to read, you should definitely give this a chance.
Have you read Uses for Boys? If yes, what did you think about it?
If no, do you plan to read it?