In Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You, Peter Cameron superbly captures the disconnected feelings and wry observations of a young man. James is an 18-year-old New Yorker who doesn’t connect with anyone in his life. The novel focuses on a few days in the summer of his 18th year as he struggles with his future – college at Brown and the life his parents expect of him or an escape to the Midwest where he would buy a house in a small town and live a quiet, sheltered life.
James’ great fear is of an existence that doesn’t “touch or overlap with anyone else’s, a sort of hermetically sealed life.” James faces a teenage narrator’s classic problem: adult perception without the deadening, reassuring glaze of adult experience. Cameron understands the choice young people are presented with: give up the sensitivity, or pass on the anesthesia.
James’ perspective and struggle is piercing, funny, painful and smart. It’s an enjoyable read for both adolescents and adults, reminding us that the search for connection, love, and understanding is universal and timeless.
- Posted by Cori