Review for “Uses for Boys” by Erica Lorraine Scheidt (2013)
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Yo, this book is pure shite….
Everything about this book is a disappointment, a trainwreck, a failure. Even the cover is an utter disgrace, because it’s awkward and has nothing to do with the words inside.
The story is told by Anna, the neglected child of a single mother who’s way too busy chasing men and money to have any kind of meaningful relationship with her daughter. After going through several of her mother’s failed marriages as a child, Anna enters her teenage years with all of the wrong ideas on how to get attention from the boys around her. She develops a reputation among her peers and she eventually drops out of school. I won’t tell any more of the plot here, but I will say Anna goes further and further down a dark path and that her mother remains just distant enough to continue not to care. It doesn’t end well for her.
The worst part about this book is that I actually DO get it. I understand the author’s intention to write about a neglected girl who uses meaningless, empty sex with losers as a source of comfort. I also came into this book knowing that it would have a large amount of *mature* content, so that’s not my criticism here. My problem is that there is no compelling message here, no theme, just a bunch of sex scenes with a supposed teenage girl narrator and not much else.
And the writing here is effin’ terrible, ya’ll. Choppy and uninspiring. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author took a bunch of Post it notes, strung them together, and spat out this book. The chapters and sentences are short, but this only seems to make sense with the beginning, with the 7-year-old voice of Anna. The problem here is that her voice never ages nor changes throughout the novel. It’s flat and monotone, the only indication that Anna is getting older is an occasional sentence where she states her age (“I’m thirteen,” “I’m fifteen.”).
Case in point:
“I’m fourteen. I go to school. I dress the way all the other kids dress. I wear my Levi’s with expensive twill shirts. I wear the right tennis shoes, the white leather ones with the green stripes. But the outfit buys me nothing. Everyone has heard how I let Desmond Dreyfus feel around under my shirt while Carl Drier and Michael Cox watched. Everyone knows about Joey. The boys make V signs when they look at me and tongue the crack between their fingers. The girls call me a slut.”
And because the whole novel is in the unchanging voice of a 7-year-old, the sex scenes take on a icky, perverse kinda quality. Judge for yourself.
“I angle my body, arm outstretched, and stuff my right breast into the warm depression under his arm. His ribs press against mine. I penetrate him with my breast. We’re boob fucking. It’s awkward and mysterious. Fulfilling.”
It’s rare when I’m so negative with a review, but I’m still trying to figure out what the point of this book was. Steer clear of this one, don’t bother.