Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You

September 30, 2008
By Ian Both, Colorado Springs, CO

This is a book about a teen finding himself amidst chaos. James Sveck is an 18 year-old growing up in New York with his mother and sister. His father and mother are divorced; he has no friends to speak of (besides his grandmother) and he is strongly opposed to his parent’s idea of him going to college. A fair portion of the story is him telling the story of when he went to Washington D.C. for something called The American Classroom, where he and students from every state spent a week learning about our government, and how he ran off and stayed in a hotel for roughly half the trip. His parents send him to a therapist’s to talk about this and his other behaviour.
James is definitely the black sheep of his family. Instead of going heading off to Brown University, he would far rather buy an old house in the Mid-West, get a job as a librarian or night watchman, and spend his free time reading authors like Shakespeare and Trollope. He doesn’t find traveling natural and thinks it’s too easy to travel in our modern world. “I think the only way to really know where you are is to walk there. Or at least stay on the ground – drive or take a train…It gives you a sense of distance”(Cameron 81-82). His opinion of other teenagers is pessimistic, to say the least. “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 just don’t enjoy being with people. People, at least in my experience, rarely say anything interesting to each other” (Cameron 39).
I would strongly recommend this book to any teens who aren’t sure what they want to do in life or have trouble telling things to their parents. As these conditions apply to most teenagers, this book offers excellent advice to almost all young adults. I found the book thoroughly enjoyable, as I identified with the protagonist on many levels. However, I don’t fit into many of the stereotypes for teenage guys, but other readers will still enjoy the author’s clever wit, relatively fast pace and well-developed characters.

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