Review: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You – Peter Cameron

Read: 18
To Go: 82

Book List
11. The Conversations – Michael Ondaatje
12. The Birth House – Ami McKay
13. Essex County – Jeff Lemire
14. Mary-Anne Saves The Day – Ann M. Martin
15. The Werewolf of Fever Swamp – R.L. Stine
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
17. The High Road  Terry Fallis
18. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You – Peter Cameron

Well, it took a while but I finally got around to finishing Peter Cameron’s novel, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You. I should note, as per my challenge rules, that this is a novel I’ve actually read before – but it’s one of those really good ones worth reading again and again.

The novel centres around antisocial, maladjusted 18-year-old James Sveck in the summer before his freshman year at Brown. And instead of getting excited for higher learning, he’s surfing real estate listings for the perfect pre-1930s farm house in rural Indiana, under the assumption that he can learn everything he needs to know through books, and that he will not enjoy attending school with people his age. While trying to convince two self-absorbed parents, a judgemental sister, increasingly vague grandmother, and painfully cryptic therapist of this realization, James is also dealing with his burgeoning infatuation with John, a handsome male colleague at his mother’s art gallery.

When asked by a friend to describe the plot of Someday, the best I could come up with was “it’s about a boy,” and then I paused awkwardly, trying to add more to my short summary. For the most part, that is really the premise of the novel; it’s very  Catcher In The Rye style, in that for the most part it is James’s inner monologue with little conversation between characters, as he bumbles through the final months of his last summer at home. However, for a book that seems to do very little, it is incredibly gripping.

James, as a narrator, is incredibly relatable; he is the exemplification of the awkwardness that all young adults go through, the uncertainty, the painfulness that can be the teenage years (though, for him, the awkwardness and uncertainty don’t actually come to an end). And despite all this, everything he says is incredibly thought out and intelligent, and he’s quite funny (though most likely unintentionally). The way that he’s able to express himself – whether through complex thoughts or very simplistic ones – makes him all the more a poignant character.

Though I typically shy away from books of this kind, due to the sheer lack of eventfulness, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You was a book that I had real trouble putting down (both times I read it). And yes, I’d recommend it.

Next book: Ominous – Kate Brian

– Kelsey


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