Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 15th, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Summary from Goodreads: 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.
Review: There is no easy way for me to say this that is going to make what I have to say come off any nicer, so let me just lay it out there. For me, this book was just terrible. I say ‘ for me’ because I already know that some readers connected with this book. I didn’t. I thought it was pretty much useless and failed at every point it tried to make. I do appreciate what the author tried to do here, but her approach was a complete fail. I am going to try to articulate my problems, but it’s difficult, because if you do not think the way I do, this review is going to not make a whole lot of sense to you. But whatever.
Poor, Anna. Her life sucks because her and her mom used to be really close, but now her mom is gone most of the time, more concerned with hooking a new husband than spending time with her daughter. To pass the time and because Anna needs attention, she has sex with boys. Lots of boys. And there is a lot of REALLY graphic and uncomfortable sex. But before I get to that, I want to discuss Anna’s character.
I can understand why a girl who is being neglected at home would turn to affection from boys because this is the only place she can get it. It’s just that her character failed to connect with me. I didn’t like Anna. I didn’t even really sympathize with her situation, and I felt bad about that because this girl has a whole set of issues that I should have cared about, but man. To me she was really unlikable, weird, and not relatable. At all.
And then there was the whole thing with her friend Toy. I just didn’t understand the point. I can’t talk much about this at all without revealing spoilers, but I would just like to ask those that read this book and liked it, what was the point of the whole Toy storyline? Why was it there? I feel like I am missing some connection I was supposed to see. I know what the reader was supposed to think, but then there was the end, and because of the way it ended, I was just left feeling confused. But for me, this was just another point that failed to connect with me.
At first I liked the writing style. But then, when I realized it just felt like a jumbled up mass of a character’s thoughts (and a character I didn’t even like), I checked out. At that point I just wanted it to be over. I think the author has a unique way of writing and I liked her flow of words, but I don’t feel it worked properly for this book, nor did it convey the messages in her writing in a meaningful way. First person present tense is a hard POV to write in, and unless you are a fantastic writer, it usually turns out poorly. That was the case here. This book just did not work for me at all.
Now we come to the part I hate talking about. The sex. I know some readers will disagree with me, and that’s totally okay. I am not offended if you think I am wrong on this point because I know it is a matter of personal taste. So feel free to sound off in the comments. Just don’t be disrespectful about it. That’s all I ask. Okay, moving on. The sex was WAY TOO graphic in my opinion. There was too much of it as well, and I didn’t feel the writing needed to be as detailed as it was. It was vulgar and felt like teenage porn. I am not against sex in YA books, I just think there is a limit to how far it should go. This was blunt, distasteful, and I don’t think I would be comfortable with a young teen reading this. Maybe a mature teen, but even that is iffy. To understand how far the book went, you would have to read it, and if you did, I would like to hear your thoughts. It made me very uncomfortable, and I guess that was the point of the narrative, but what can I say? I didn’t like it. I don’t have a quote for you, and perhaps I should have grabbed one, but I have already deleted this off my Kindle and moved on. But I really feel this should not be classified as a YA novel.
Before I go, I just want to say that my review here is my opinion. And it is only one opinion. I know that this book has connected with some readers, but overall, I think it is failing to connect with its audience. The early ratings and reviews on Goodreads, for the most part, reflect that. Not everyone is going to like everything they read, and I certainly didn’t like this. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it. It wouldn’t be honest of me to do so. But if you usually disagree with my reviews, then you should try it for yourself.
Also, what is WITH the cover? It makes you think this will be a fun book. It’s not. NOT at all. I don’t think the cover matches the narrative in any way, shape or form. I love the cover, but not for this book.