Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
This emotionally difficult book is one many teens may become involved with in a voyeuristic way. Anna Bloom used to be her single mom’s center of the universe. She would tell her baby girl stories about how she wanted her daughter more than anything. But when Anna turns eight, suddenly she is “too big for stories,” and her mother begins her endless quest for the next boyfriend, the next step-father. She starts neglecting Anna, even to the point of leaving the child alone for the weekend. Anna lines up her stuffed animals and tells them her story. “I had no mother, I tell them. I had no father.” In middle school, Anna realizes she can make boys into her family, if she just gives them what they want. Now they have a use. Sadly, the other kids mock her and the girls call her names. Only her friend Toy, who seems to have problems of her own, is there to listen to her. But that’s fine, because Anna has made boys her family. By sixteen she’s dropped out of school to live with her boyfriend and work at a cafe.
I think this title is a good choice for teens who like realistic, gritty fiction. Fans of Go Ask Alice and Ellen Hopkins’ books will be completely captivated. The short simple chapters make the book quick to get into, and Anna’s story will sadden readers while engaging their attention. Although the writer never gets preachy about Anna’s decisions, the bleakness of her life may turn off some readers.