Oakland is full of people who like to read - and people who like to write.
One of the most exciting books I've read recently is actually a young adult novel, "Uses for Boys," a first book by Berkeley author Erica Lorraine Scheidt. Released Jan. 15, "Uses for Boys" is the raw, lyrical story of a teen girl who grapples with maternal abandonment, sexuality and identity.
"Uses for Boys" has the lyricism of a favorite YA author of mine, Francesa Lia Block, but the raw realism of the heroine's struggle to stay alive and cared for is anything but magical.
Basically abandoned by adults, young Anna finds boys useful as both lovers and surrogate family, but she's directionless and sad at the start and goes through a lot of trauma - and drama - as she grows into the wise funny person she is at the end.
Scheidt is reading from the book at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Laurel Book Store. It's a don't miss event!
For a sense of how girls feel about this book, take a look at this trailer for "Uses for Boys" made by three local teenagers, including Tiffany Robinso, a senior at Oakland School of the Arts.
This video was a Project of TILT the youth program at the Ninth Street Film Center, directed by Oakland resident, Robyn Bykofsky.
As a teen, Erica Lorraine Scheidt studied writing at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University and later received a Master of Arts in creative writing from University of California, Davis. Now a teaching artist and longtime volunteer at 826 Valencia, Erica works with teen writers in the San Francisco Bay Area. She's a 2012 Artist in Residence at Headlands Center for the Arts and is currently at work on a second novel for young adults. She also is on the board of the 10-year-old Oakland nonprofit, ISIS, that provides sexual health programs for young people using innovative new technologies.
"Uses for Boys," Erica Lorraine Scheidt Reading
When: 6 p.m. Jan. 26
Where: Laurel Book Store, 4100 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland
Details: (510) 531-2073