Her bed is a raft on the ocean. It’s a cloud, a forest, a spaceship, a cocoon we share. I stretch out big as I can, a five-pointed star, and she bundles me back up in her arms. When I wake I’m tangled in her hair.
“Tell me again,” I say and she tells me again how she wanted me more than anything.
The Low Down: Anna calls the time before she turned eight the “tell-me-again times,” where her mother would tirelessly respond to endless requests from Anna to tell her how Anna was all she needed. “Now I have everything,” she says. But then things change, and Anna is no longer enough. An ever-changing line of suitors, then step-fathers pull her mother farther and farther away. Anna spends so much time alone. How can she fill the emptiness?
Somehow, almost without her noticing, boys are there. Filling in the gaps, making her forget, but still leaving her empty. And lonely. At school, she’s become that girl. So she leaves. Anna then meets someone damaged like her. She wants to really connect with her friend, Toy, tell her she understands mothers that are absent, fathers that are long gone. But some things are hard to say. And hear. Their lives are full of secrets and half-truths.
Then she meets Sam. He actually wants her to meet his family – a new experience for Anna, who is used to being invisible. A house full of warmth and love. Anna holds her breath, hoping this time, this family will last.
Best Thang ‘Bout It: The way this is written suits the story so well. Told in first person, it is lyrical, with certain important phrases, paragraphs, stories repeated like a refrain, a promise, a hope, a wish. Though the subject matter is sad and heavy, the light prose lulls the reader into Anna’s world, making you feel adrift on that raft with Anna.
This story breaks my heart. Anna is left alone a lot at a very young age. Her mother is always has her purse, on her way to somewhere else. Anna doesn’t have talks with her mother about homework, boys, friends, anything. Her mother teaches her nothing except how to expect nothing. Her feelings of worthlessness, coupled with her naiveté, make her an easy mark for those boys who think they can do what they want with her. These feelings also allow her to let them.
I’m Cranky Because: I’m only cranky in a fictional way, meaning, It kills me that Anna’s mom was so selfish. And you know this happens in real life.
To Read or Not To Read: Absolutely, especially if you have a daughter. Or a son. Or both. Or neither.
Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt was published January 15, 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin.
Genre: New Adult Fiction Contemporary Romance
Ages: 16-18 and up (depending on maturity level)
You Might Want to Know: I am classifying this book as New Adult because of the subject matter, even though the main characters are high school-aged. There is a lot of sexual activity, drinking and drug use. This book deals with mature themes.