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Review: Someday this Pain will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron

in a sentence or so: James is an 18 year old who hates people his own age, doesn't want to go to college
in the fall, and finds communicating with anyone an absolute frustrating and revolting challenge.

we enter the story as James's mom's most recent marriage doesn't last through the honeymoon.  James is spending the summer after high school working in his mom's art gallery in NYC, but he wasn't exactly the most loyal employee while she was away.  however, he finds working with John, his older and well educated coworker, to be a tolerable person to interact with and so mildly enjoys his time there.

James has been thinking more and more lately that he just doesn't want to go to college. he doesn't want to spend the next four years of his life bombarded with people he hates and doesn't care to associate with in the least. feeling like he can just reach himself all he wants to learn through books, James begins to foster the idea of buying a house with his college money and living his life that way.  needless to say, his parents are none to keen to the idea, and his sister is doing her best to set him straight.

it's hard to say what the plot is, exactly.  essentially we're along for the ride of James last summer between high school and college beginning in the fall, should he decide to go.  we see what his relationship with his mom is like, what his relationship with his dad is like, sit with James through therapy sessions, are right beside him in an awkward attempt to prove his worth with his co-worker John, and his nurturing relationship with his grandma (called Nanette).  James is pretentious, snooty, and broken. it feels as if he is on the autism spectrum (never mentioned in the book) with how he relies on and focuses on controlling speech - his own internal monologue, conversation with others, and even the words and phrases of others.  James also prefers a very solitary lifestyle, finding even prolonged interactions with his family leaving him feeling restless for alone time and often zoning out for half hour segments, withdrawn in his head.

this read was very sterile, and fits the character perfectly.  James feels like an adult voice reflecting on his past, not a young adult living through his present.  the ending was totally abrupt and unsatisfying.  James processes things in such a way that made this book a challenge for me. and i realize that it wasn't me who couldn't relate to James, but James who can't relate to me. so ultimately i felt like i was reading about issues, about broken relationships, about trying to discover who you are...all without a main character. a creative literary device, but personally an enjoyment challenge.

fave quote: "The main problem was I don't like people in general and people my age in particular, and people my age are the ones who go to college...I'm not a sociopath or a freak (although I don't suppose people who are sociopaths or freaks self-identify as such); I just don't enjoy being with people." (39)

fix er up: this was sterile and unsatisfying when it was all said and done. but i can't stop thinking about it...so it's not all bad.

title: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You
author: Peter Cameron
genre: Coming of Age

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.

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