The book I read this week was “Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You” by Peter Cameron. I don’t know how to categorize it, but I would say it is sort of Young Adult book since the main protagonist is a 18-year-old guy.
I read this book caught by the title and thinking it could be a different thing than what it really was. With this I am not saying I am disappointed, just surprised. A book does not always need to be like the title says; we shouldn’t judge a book by its title, haha.
The picture on the side it’s from the edition I have read in my language, Italian. On the cover there is Toby Regbo who played the role of James in the movie adaptation (that I haven’t seen) of this book.
This book was a very fast read. It has about 200-something pages and the story spans on a few days to some flashbacks of a few months earlier to what the protagonist is telling to the reader. It was short but meaningful.
James is a guy who lives in New York City and has just finished high school. He was admitted to Brown University, and this would make one think that he would be happy, but it is not the case.
James, like any of us when we were adolescents and were about to change our lives, doesn’t want to go to University and doesn’t see this as a oportunity to know new people and make new experiences. He believes people are all annoying and stupid, and he won’t get to meet anybody who is just like him, who loves to be alone and read tough literature books.
He basically hates everyone and everything, but he gets along with his grandma and his mother’s subordinate. This is weird to him, because he says he hates the world and therefore he should hate everyone, so why does he only care about these people?
He has a family that we could say is a bit dysfunctional. His parents are divorced and his mother is a woman who loves to do new things and find new husbands when she feels like. His older sister is a woman who loves older men who are also smart. His father is a successful businessman who is afraid of looking older day by day, and that spends money to make himself still appealing to women.
James doesn’t exactly hate his family members, but he doesn’t seem to interact on a deep level with them either. They always seem lost in their lives and with their partners that they do not check on James if not to be sure he did or will do what they asked, like going to University.
One day his father wonders if James is gay because he ordered a dish of pasta instead of beef, which, in his opinion, is more manly. James is flustered because he hates when his father judges what he does, and that he never thought about that before. Even to his father, James’ dream to quit University and find a house in Indiana is such a crazy thing to do, and he feels more compelled to do it.
From here it starts a chain of events that will lead James to make decisions he doesn’t even know if he should take, and it leads him to understand something he never thought about himself either.
Changes can happen in a second, according to people’s whims or because of exterior reasons. People who have things clear in their mind may be disappointed when they find out what they believed true were just smoke screens and reality is different. These smoke screens could also cover one’s true identity and will and feelings. The key is looking into oneself to find out what you never believed could be into you, or get therapy.
James had a strong desire to run away from the life he had to live, and he really did it at some point, only to realize that even if he run, he had nowhere to go and nobody to lean on. Running away is not always the best choice in life. One should face their fears (in this case the fear to be together with others and have to interact with them) in order not to find himself too much into his thoughts and deny himself what he really is or really wants.
One who runs away where nobody knows him is a way to “kill” himself, somehow. If we run, we won’t know many things that we could witness if we stayed. If we don’t try to make things right and face our demons, we won’t ever feel at peace with who we are in the world.