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Erica Lorraine Scheidt's Writing Journey
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 by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: YA Realistic fiction
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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."