Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 15th, 2013
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary: 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.
My Review: Uses For Boys sat on my computer for a week or two before I opened it, solely because I had nothing else to read. I had been really hesitant for this book because of the subject matter – I don’t normally review books that have a brief mention of the words sex or slut, mainly because this is a YA blog, but also because of my personal morals, and I almost never review books where these are the main subject matter, so I was very hesitant.
But I’m very glad I read Uses For Boys – everything about it is new, fresh, from the writing style to the book itself, it’s an incredible book, even more so because it actually pulls of such edgy matter and actually manages to classify itself as YA.
And the writing style, as aforementioned, is incredible, the descriptions are great without becoming boring, the characters are vivid, they develop as the story rolls on, as only the best books do, the book flows on in an almost lyrical way - it reminds me of kind of one long poem, in a good way, and altogether this is one of my top ten reads of 2013. I highly recommend it, as it’s a great book, and i'm looking forward to more books by this great author!
What inspired you to write your first book?
Uses for Boys had so many inspirations: childhood, divorce, stepfamilies, the suburbs, THE LOVER by Marguerite Duras, this word: slut, borrowing your best friend’s clothes, thrift stores, THE ICE STORM by Rick Moody, sharing cigarettes, the stories our moms tell us, the lies we tell our friends, Francesca Lia Block, first apartments, taking off your bra without taking off your shirt, bathtubs, Portland, parties your parent’s basement, Rum 151, faded t-shirts, best friends, sneaking out in the middle of the night, boyfriends, Anais Nin, blue jeans, kissing.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
No, not a message exactly. I really appreciate the generosity that readers have brought to the book and the time that readers and bloggers take in reading and and thinking about Anna's story.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part for me in writing Uses for Boys was understanding the shape that the story was going to take. I wrote it for three and a half years and much of that time, maybe the first two years, was about learning what Anna was moving towards. It took me a long time to understand how much of the story was about family.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I would say: finish. Finish your story or novel or poem, or whatever. Just finish it. I revise and revise until the story gets under my skin and I cannot let it stay unfinished.
What's your favorite book?
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It's the books I read when I was a kid that shape me as a person and as a writer. This one, in particular.
Do you have any unusual talents?
Unusual talents? Geez, um: I'm an unusually bad singer, I mean really, really awful; I like to think I'm really good at recognizing other people's strengths, I have an amazing capacity to stay in my pajamas all day and ignore the dishes; and I can make my family laugh, even when I'm not trying to.