Jan 9, 2013

Blog Tour: Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt Excerpt






Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 240 pages
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.




Excerpt from Uses For Boys... The first two chapters "The Tell-Me-Again Times" & "Eight Is Too Big For Stories"

In the happy times, in the tell-me-again times, when I'm seven and there are no stepbrothers and it's before the stepfathers, my lets me sleep in her bed.

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.

"More than anything in the world," she says, "I wanted a little girl."

I'm her little girl. I measure my fingers against hers. I watch in the mirror as she brushes her hair. I look for myself in her features. I stare at her feet. Her toes, like toes, are crooked and strangely long.

"You have my feet," I say.

In the tell-me-again times she looks down and places her bare foot next to mine. Our apartment is small and I can see the front door from where we stand.

"Tell me again," I say and she tells me how it was before I came. What it was like when she was all alone. She had no mother, she says, she had no father. All she wanted was a little girl and that little girl is me.

"Now I have everything," she says and the side of her foot presses against the side of mine.




But everything changes and I'm not everything anymore. We're in the bathroom and she's getting ready. His name is Thomas, she says, and he won't like it if she's late. She tugs at the skin below her eyes, smooths her eyebrow with the tip of her finger. I'm getting old, she says. "Tell me again," I say.

"Eight is too big for stories," she tells me. She sweeps past me to pick out a dress and when she does, I know. I know this dress. It's the dress she wore the first time, the dress she wore the last time she left me alone. It's yellow and when I touch the fabric, my fingers leave marks.

"Stop that," my mom says and steps out of reach. Then she sprays perfume between her breasts and I turn away. I know what comes next. She'll go out and I'll get a babysitter. She'll wear perfume and put on nylons. She'll wear high-heeled shoes. The babysitter will sit at our kitchen table and play solitaire.

"Why do you have to go?" I say.

"I'm tired of being alone," she says and I stare at the wall of her room. The bathroom fans shuts off in the next room. Alone is how our story starts. But then I came along and changed all that.

"You're not alone," I say. My back is to her and on the wall of her bedroom are the photographs I know by heart. The pictures that go with our story. She always starts with the littlest one. The one of her mother.

"The last one," my mom says, meaning it's the last picture taken before her mother died. She died before I was born. "She was so lonely," my mom says. OUr story starts on the day that her father left her mother. It starts with my mom taking care of her mother when she was just a kid like me.

I can take care of you, I think. But already she has her coat on. She's opening the front door because Thomas is waiting downstairs.

I look at another photo, the one of me at the beach sorting seashells and seaweed and tiny bits of glass. In it, I'm concentrating and wearing my mom's sweater with the sleeves rolled up.

"Bye," she calls and I look up, but the door is already closed.



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