When I started Uses for Boys, I had it pegged. “This,” I thought, “is a book a I will appreciate, but not like very much.” It’s apparent from very early on that Scheidt is an excellent writer, and the understated style of the book was well done. But–it also felt Literary and Important and I’m biased against those things. I don’t always like books that are heavy on sexual content, and I was worried that it would be too much for me. I didn’t really connect with Anna’s situation.
And then something changed, and I ended up totally loving it. Even more than that, resonating with the story, with Anna. Partly, this is because the title and the exterior shell of the plot hide the truth: the story is not about Anna’s relationship with boys. It’s about her relationship with other women, with her mother, with Toy, with Sam’s mother, and with herself. I loved the way Anna feels about her apartment, the care she takes with it. And the resolution is beautifully written, with hope that didn’t read as false. Even now, remembering it, I find myself filled with satisfaction and contentment. Anna’s been through some hard times, and she’ll probably go through some more. But fundamentally, she’s okay.
Which isn’t to say that as a reader or a person I always agreed with her choices. I often didn’t. But I was never pushed away by this. Even her mistakes or false starts weren’t alienating. I cared about her; I experienced her in a certain way as a real person.
This book probably isn’t for everybody, but it’s one that I hope ends up in the right hands. For someone, I think, it could be a book that changes everything. It’s superbly written, and I will remember Anna and her story for a long time to come.
Book source: public library
Book information: St. Martin’s Press, 2013; YA
I read this book for the 2013 Cybils. You’ll be able to see all of my Cybils reviews by clicking here.