Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
Target Audience: Young Adults/Adults
Synopsis: 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.
My Review: There's no real way to describe this novel without using the following word: Harrowing. Because that's exactly what this book is. There's not one particular point or event that makes this novel shocking but rather the book as a whole. And if you're sensitive to underage sex, rape, neglectful parents and abortion then maybe you should give this book a miss. However, if you have a strong stomach and you're not easily scared off then this is an eye opening, lyrical, shocking and yet oddly uplifting and hopeful read.
I wouldn't trade places with Anna even if all the money in the world were offered to me. Part of me was infuriated that she could keep making bad decisions and treating herself so poorly, but it's hard not to sympathise for her and the situation she finds herself in. I wouldn't wish her predicament on any young woman. It saddens me to know that this definitely happens in real life and that there are 13 to 16 year old girls out there having sex, being used and neglected, but sadly it is true that it happens. Sadly, girls like Anna are not just works of fiction.
It did made me wonder how many of those so called 'sluts' at school are actually very lonely girls who, like Anna, have gotten confused and forgotten and used boys and sex as a means of escape from life.
It isn't all doom and gloom though and there's some important lessons to be learned from reading this; you can change your life. You can find happiness and love and you don't need to be with another person to be happy either, sometimes the person who can make you happiest is yourself.
I wanted to scream at some of the boys Anna meets because some of them were absolute jerks and knowingly took advantage, others were just as lost as her and I felt sympathy for them too. I disliked Anna's mother with a passion, and I think she wrote the guidebook on 'How to be a Bad Parent' and I hated the fact she left Anna alone so much.
Overall this was a well written and emotive story, written in a way that was almost poetic. The only fault I could find was that I would have loved to have known more of what happens to Sam and Anna after the the story ended. The ending was very abrupt and a little confusing, but other than that an enlightening shocking and eye-opening read. Many thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to read this before the release date.