Summary (from Goodreads):
“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.”
This book will break your heart.
I think we all know the people who equate sex with love (and if we’re being honest, most of us have made that mistake at least once) but when it’s this high school girl (and it usually is, right?), it’s just completely wrenching.
And because Anna sees that her mom can only value herself when she’s in a relationship and her daughter is secondary at best when it comes to this parade of guys. (It’s not as horrible as I’m making it sound just because she dates guys that seem nice enough; none of them molest Anna, for example. But none of them are nice enough to point out that Anna is essentially an orphan, either.)
Anna is smart and strong, but not enough of either to change the path that she’s on. Until, that is, she meets Sam. Sam is this sweet boy whose life is exactly her opposite. He has parents and siblings and their life is this whole big Norman Rockwell thing that Anna can’t even relate to. Yes, she falls for Sam but she also falls for his life. She loves the idea of people noticing whether or not she’s around and helping to make dinner. And that’s the saddest thing about this novel: Anna’s dreams are so small and they’re still so hard to realize. Because honestly, we all should have people around who notice whether or not we’re there. But that’s so far outside of the realm of her experience.