Book Reviews

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You


I liked the protagonist of Someday This Pain Will Be Useful more than Holden Caulfield. Unfortunately that isn’t that great a compliment.James Sveck has a lot of privilege. His family has money. They are willing to pay for him to go to Brown. James wants to not go to college and instead wants to go buy a farmhouse, be isolated from people, and read novels all day. James definitely comes off a bit whiny, but trying to follow his logic behind his actions and thoughts felt worth it to me while I was reading. It still really frustrated me.

The most annoying thing about James to me was that he was so unwilling to try to get some kind of college education. Especially when his parents could afford it. I would be yelling at this guy to  realize the opportunities he has and how they are so much more than other people get. He also didn’t offer up any other options his parents may find reasonable like if he took online courses. Not wanting to be around people his age was not good reasoning to me.

James is constantly critical of people and often correcting others. His issue with the misuse of words was actually interesting to me. I liked the way he thought about the importance of words. I think it said a lot about his character and was one of the things that made me understand him a little.

Peter Cameron wrote side characters that got me interested in seeing how James had become the person he is. You get the mother who has had another failed marriage. The sister who is just as bad at understanding James as I was. I really liked James father as well. The eccentric grandmother that James actually likes to talk to was really great. Plus there’s John the older co-worker that is unlucky in love.

I often see this book listed in the section for LGBT books , but it isn’t really one. James sexuality is never confirmed in the story or if it is it doesn’t matter. There are some great moments with his parents regarding it, but I felt like James didn’t really even consider his sexuality much even after they talked to him. Sure he has an infatuation with a co-worker at his mom’s job, but James never really expresses why.Maybe we should assume it’s a crush, but James sure doesn’t put much thought into his actions. It doesn’t seem as if it is for romantic reasons while it’s happening.He may just be reaching out for once, but not really understanding how to do it.

I think we see more that James ability to understand people is non-existent with how he treats his co-worker. He does something so horrible and I honestly can’t figure out how he thinks it’ll be okay. He isn’t able to empathize with other people.That’s where the story bothers me. There isn’t really big development for James in the novel. He annoys me at the beginning. Then he becomes a little more bearable before it all goes downhill again. By the end there is supposed to be some hope that he’ll move forward, but I felt like the story needed to go a bit further for me to believe it.

If you have the patience for this novel it is worth the read. Honestly, I feel like more people will be reading it and thinking that James needs to grow up and stop being so ridiculous. Peter Cameron has a great writing style though.I would try something else by him depending on the topic of the book. Hopefully someday having read this book will be useful to me though.

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