Monday, January 14, 2013

Blog Tour ~ Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt Guest Post, Review + Giveaway!

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Guest Post
Erica Lorraine Scheidt's Writing Journey

I was one of those kids who always wrote. I always, always wrote. I told everyone I was going to be a writer. My dentist. My babysitter. My family was incredibly supportive, my mom gave me a typewriter for my eight birthday and made a big deal out of all my stories. She still does.

When I was a teenager I dropped out of high school and went to Portland Community College and then Portland State University. I wasn’t a well rounded student. My transcript is all writing and literature classes. At Portland State I studied Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon and that was it, it was all over, my future was certain: I was going to be a Great American Writer.

I left school and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana to be come a Great American Writer. I failed miserably. I transferred to the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado and for two years I lived in this beautiful town and bicycled the streets with crazy Argentine poets and Swedish memoirists. But then I graduated. It’s a lot tougher to write when you’re out of school and have no deadlines. So I tried to move to Borneo to become a Great American Writer.

I failed miserably.

See, I was nothing but cocksure bravado as young writer. I would tell people that I would be published by 17. And then 19. And then 25. And then I stopped saying that because it’s really hard to write. And it’s really hard to find your way in the world and when I found a job at 24 that I was good at it, I did it, and I worked really, really hard at it.

The rest of the story is probably in my bio, below. The thing is, a little glimmer of cocksure bravado is great, it’s great, you know, because it makes you reach, but the truth is, I find writing very humbling. And I love it. I’m not filled with bravado, I’m earnest and hardworking. I’m at work on a new book now and I struggle and I reach and I fail and I love it.

Uses for Boys
Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Release Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 240
Genre: YA Realistic fiction
Source: Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Haunt Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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.

I'd like to talk about the cover first even though I don't normally talk about covers in my reviews. It is gorgeous! One of my favorites but I feel like it gives the wrong impression of the book. This is a very sad, lonely, dark, and gritty contemporary. It won't be for everyone and the cover kind of gives off a light romantic book idea but it is far from that. It is a deep and meaningful story but not something really enjoyable or romantic as the cover would suggest.

Anna's mom started dating and marrying different men while Anna was a young girl. She takes off with them for weeks sometimes and Anna is left all alone. She never had many friends. One day on the bus ride home, a boy touches her. She is so desperate for human contact and enjoys having someone actually notice her. Then rumors begin and she loses the one friend she had. With such a loney life she begins a relationship with another lonely boy, Joey. I was so sad for her that when she finally gets a boyfriend a weird part of me was really happy because she finally has at least one person in her life. But way too young she fills her time with sex.

The sex is extremely explicit and is talked about often throughout the entire book. It didn't bother me too much as I know this happens and it is realistic. After Joey moves away there is one scene of non-consensual sex and that one was difficult for me to read. Anna never had anyone to talk to about it and I continued to feel her grow lonelier. At 16 she moves in with a boy in his twenties. I didn't ever necessarily think her boyfriends were ever truly bad guys. They seemed just as lonely and damaged. I think it all comes back to the old saying that you need to love and be happy with yourself before you can truly love another person and make a relationship work. Anna is a drop out with no real goals, family, friends, hobbies, or anything else in her life to make her happy but a boy. Anna becomes unsatified and moves on again.

She does meet one friend named Toy but Toy never even listened. Toy was kind of in her own la la land I want to say because she lied and hid her problems when they could have really helped each other. Anna continues to want a connection and eventually finds a boy her age named Sam. Not until 70% through so it is a long journey. Even with Sam she makes mistakes. But Sam has a lovely family and they all have dinner together several times a week. Slowly she begins to want more and to want to have something real with Sam. I believe it ends on a hopeful note with Anna wanting to change her relationships and have something more. The writing style is different and makes you feel in a different place, lonely, and depressed along with Anna. The story flows nicely and I read it all in one sitting. While it was sad, I still thought it was a great book. It just won't be something for everyone.

"And then he doesn't say anything. He doesn't say he'll miss me or that he's sorry. Does he know he's leaving me? That I'll have to ride the bus home alone and come home alone and be home alone? They leave, I think, just like my mom says."

Rating: 4/5
When Erica was a kid all she did was write. She dropped out of high school and attended the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University where she was surrounded by writers and artists. But then, in Erica's early twenties, she got a job. She worked hard at that job for 15 years and didn't write a word. Then this happened: Erica walked into a bookstore and bought two books by Francesca Lia Block. No particular reason, she just liked their covers. Then Erica read everything Francesca wrote. She read all the YA she could. She still does. Erica thinks the world that happens between 13 and 17 is everything. She quit her job. Studied writing. And then spent three and a half years writing Uses for Boys. Now she's working on a new novel and it's like falling down a hole. Writing her first novel taught her nothing about writing the next one.



  1. This is definitely going around the blogsphere lately. This is a great review. I am glad you enjoyed this one more than I did.

    I think if I hadn't been expecting more of a cutesy love story and instead something a little more raw and gritty and brutally honest I would have enjoyed this one more.

  2. I know we have already talked about this one before, but I am glad you were able to enjoy it. I did think it was really well written. My wish is that the cover was not so misleading. I know covers often don't match, but this hints at a sweet romance. I would have preferred something with just 'Anna' on the cover. Not that the author has any control over that, but alas. lol

  3. Every review I've read for this, convinces me more and more that I need to read Uses For Boys. I love a tough YA book, so much. I'm glad you liked this and found it to be realistic. Great review!

  4. I agree about the cover, love it but doesnt match the messy and dark story inside.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  5. Great review, I struggled with this one even though I thought it was brilliantly done, the cover is wrong and I wish it had been labeled new adult.

  6. I'm not sure if this is something I would go for, but I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. It sounds like the authors tackled the problems pretty well for you. Great review, Jennifer! Also, I have to agree, that cover is stunning...

  7. An honest to goodness YA that portrays life in a realistic gritty manner without simpering and sugarcoating how hard it is to be a teenage girl, I have to get my hands on this as it brings back soooo many memories of friends from school too many years ago to count that had similar lives to Anna's and the same issues with their self worth was appeased by being "easy" with the boys. Maybe if someone had written something like this back then they would have understood that they were not alone and not going about solving their loneliness in the right manner either.

  8. I agree, I looked at the cover when everyone was getting their copies and thought it was going to be a sweet romantic story, but then I started reading the reviews last week and found that this is gritty, raw and difficult. I know it is striking a chord with everyone and a lot of people aren't loving it. I think it must have an important message and I would like to check it out! Best of luck to Erica with her next book.

  9. I'm glad that you pointed out the cover thing. I could already tell by the synopsis it wouldn't be fun and romantic, but I know that not everyone reads them. Unfortunately I couldn't get into the book. The writing style wasn't working for me. It does sound like a fantastic story, but I couldn't get into it. Great review as always!

  10. I haven't read this yet and the cover is beautiful....its one of the reasons why this book is on my to read list. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I can't wait to try it. Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. Love that quote, it’s so sad. I’m glad I read your warning on Goodreads that this was NOT a love story. I think most people are expecting that and might be disappointed.
    This book was very sad. Anna was so broken and lonely and desperate for attention. When it came to guys, she was like a robot though. Just going through the motions. This made is sadder for me. I still ended up liking this one though but the cover is misleading.
    The sex scenes were so awkward to read because it was so mechanical, no romance at all which added to the feel of the story.

  12. I love gritty contemporary and enjoyed this! The cover is lovely but I agree -- it doesn't quite match the story.

  13. I have had my eye on this book for a while. Nice post!

  14. Great review! I'd love to read this!! I heard really good things about this on Goodreads from my friends, even though some parts were a little misleading... I still want to read it though! :D

  15. Yay, glad you liked this one too. Yeah, the cover does put off a romantic vibe, but after reading it, it kind of fits. I love how the boy seems kind of closed off and the way she's holding his arms while they kiss. But without reading it first, it's hard to pick-up on that stuff, so people take it as a sweet, romantic pose.

  16. I think the cover is gorgeous and it led me to pick up this book but I was disappointed in the book ultimately because of the difference in cover/content.

  17. This sounds just like my kind of book, even if it has depressing tendencies, it almost sounds like something Ellen Hopkins would write. I'm really glad that even through it was different from what you were expecting that you enjoyed it! I remember way back when it was featured in your WOW :)

    And great guest posts, you found a great topic!

  18. This is actually the first time I've read a 4 star review for the book... Not that I've read many, but this is the third so far... The first two gave 2 stars... As far as I can remember, they said they were disturbed with the book and I understand that because of the actions of the main character... If I ever had the chance to read this book, I hope I will like it...


  19. I agree that the cover was beautiful, but unfortunately I wasn't a very big fan of the story.
    I'm glad you enjoyed it!


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