Review Detail

Uses for Boys Featured
Young Adult Fiction 2339
Beautiful, But Far From Enjoyable
(Updated: February 22, 2013)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Uses For Boys came as a total shock for me. I've mentioned before that YA Contemporary is not my favorite genre, and although the genre seems to top my annual "Best of" list every year, and although there are several authors of the genre who I call favorites, I dislike far more YA Contemporaries than I like. It has to be something special for me to love it. When this book arrived in my mailbox unexpectedly, I thought, "Oh! Pretty cover!", but I wasn't sure I would read it. Then I saw it was blurbed by the fantastic Ellen Hopkins, who happens to be one of my favorites in any genre, and I was sold.

Here's the deal. Uses For Boys is ugly. It's raw, gritty, real, and heartbreaking. The protagonist, Anna, is one that just tears you up. She is disconnected and naive. She is so lonely and desperate for love and attention, and she relies heavily on the only guidance she has ever received... The poor example of her self-absorbed, bed-hopping, several times married mother. Her reality is stark, cold, and unforgiving, and although she experiences a small bit of light and hope through her sometimes friendship with Toy, and fledgling relationship with Sam, as the reader, I was left wondering if it would ever be enough. When I picked this book up, my expectations were based on the cover, and the cover told to me expect a YA Romance. Well, nothing could have been more misleading. This book is a coming-of-age story about a girl who is coming of age under the harshest of circumstances. Anna's voice was tragic and and crushingly despondent. I had so many feelings while reading this book, and I have to say, that the good ones were few and far between. I can't say that I enjoyed this book, because much of it was difficult to read, from a subject-matter standpoint, but I found it compelling nonetheless. I thought it was extremely well written in a beautifully simple way that is not often found, especially in YA.
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