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 by Erica Lorraine Scheidt is a story of breaking down and growing up.
Like the cover of the book, Anna could appear to be confusing or contradictory. She could be painted in very black and white brush strokes, labeled a slut or latchkey kid or a stoner or a dropout. But she doesn't appear this way. With an incredible economy of words, Scheidt crafts Anna into a nuanced, complicated character. (Reviewed by Tamara Smith).
Starred Review. Scheidt's novel packs a punch; this fast-moving book can be devoured in one sitting, but reveals even more upon rereading. Ages 13–up.
Starred Review. Haunting, frank and un-put-downable. Fiction. 14-17
Starred Review. Many girls will relate to the fact that 'there are no fathers in this story'… Scheidt's spare and poetic debut offers up pretty images for some decidedly unpretty situations ... at times, her prose feels as tightly wrought as a novel in verse. This is a story about where we come from, and how, sometimes, we have to break free from the past in order to shape our own future... Lots of teens will see themselves in the pages of this beautiful, honest novel.
Ellen Hopkins, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of the Crank trilogy
I wish every young woman could gain the wisdom found in these pages. Quiet. Stark. Possibly life changing.
Erica Lorraine Scheidt is a long-time volunteer for the non-profit organization, 826 Valencia, headquartered in San Francisco. Her latest effort involves teaching a writing workshop for teens, called Chapter One. In the workshop teens focus on crafting the first chapters of their novels. Here is the description of the workshop:
Calling all novelists and would-be novelists! In this four-week workshop, you will write first chapters and key scenes from your upcoming novel, as well as a synopsis and outline. Each participant will choose a favorite novel to use as a guide and as a group, we'll closely examine our favorite novels for language, form, and structure, as well as character, plot, and conflict. We will steal good ideas mercilessly and write until our pencils break. We'll share and provide peer critiques and then write and revise some more. If you have an idea, a start, or just the desire, this is the workshop for you.
Doesn't it sound utterly interesting? I want to go! But…what is 826 exactly?
Samara Taylor used to believe in miracles. But her mother is in rehab, and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. And when a young girl in her small town is kidnapped, her already-worn thread of faith begins to unravel. (Young Adults)
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