Uses for Boys

Uses for Boys - Erica Lorraine Scheidt The thing about Uses for Boys is that I can't pass off my dislike for it by simply saying, "it wasn't for me". Books that promise a realistic approach to afflictions many endure in life attract me. Yes, Uses for Boys is one of these books. It is realistic and raw, dark and daring. Unfortunately, it was nothing more that that. Lacking any sort of substance, Uses for Boys, was just a package of shock value. This does not foster any sort of a pleasurable reading experience. Nor does it facilitate much discussion, review-wise.Readers are introduced to Anna at age seven. It is obvious that she is an abandoned child. Yes, her single mother is present, but she is preoccupied with finding potential husbands and boyfriends. This is certainly a sad situation for a naive child to be in, especially since she remembers a time when her mom cared - the "tell me again" times. Unfortunately, Anna learns at this early age that men can fill voids via this seemingly fulfilling lifestyle of her mother. This unhealthy exposure will be the pillar of her teenaged life as well.Though I was a bit intrigued by Anna's life, her angst and her relationships, there was nothing that I found substantial in Uses for Boys. It touches on gritty topics that need more development and significance, especially in regards to sex and sexual abuse. In regards to imagery, these graphic scenes are crass and detailed. Lacking extensive meaning, such scenes can only be reduced to shock value. I do understand that the Scheidt’s intentions were good, but how can a cautionary tale be successful when not told? Because of this lack of theme development and overall significance, Uses for Boys tells as though just an account on unhealthy sexual relationships. This is why it seems like just a book meant to make you jolt - not to deliver a moral.Overall, in regards to plot and characterization, Uses for Boys left no impression on me. The plot is circuitous and flat. Even when improvement does occur in Anna's relationships, things again revert. The characters beside Anna, such as Toy are weakly portrayed, offering no opportunity to strike readers. Sam, who is supposed to be the breakthrough boyfriend, failed to intrigue me.I wish I could say that my problems with Uses for Boys ended there, but alas the writing definitely irked me. I am all for unorthodox writing. I love when authors boldly dismiss style conventions; however, it felt as though it was forced to complement the shock value of Uses for Boys. Also, it has no distinction when it comes to "voice of age". Seven year old Anna sounds the same when she is thirteen and so on. The writing also lacks fluidity. This is especially disappointing since Uses for Boys is told in stream of consciousness narrative. Though it is great that readers get inside Anna's inner workings, it feels less beneficial since it is so choppy - a far cry from lyrical. In a nutshell, Uses for Boys suffered from a severe case of poor development. There was virtually no plot, no characterization, and most of all, no overlying significance. Not even the writing redeemed it for me. It left no lingering impression on me at all.