Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday Review, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You

Today's Tuesday Review is of a book which one of my teenagers' friends loaned me. Oh dang - I have to pick and ship at least one book from a Tuesday Review past. This weekend, friends. But today's book is Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You, by Peter Cameron.

Really, this was a painful book to read on several levels. The 16 year old boy who handed it to me, asking my opinion, said that he liked it, but it had no plot, no point. I found the opposite to be true for me - I didn't really care for it, but it certainly had a plot, a point.

James Sveck - aimless, quietly intelligent, lonely 18 year old man-child - is the first person point-of-view lead in this book. He's a recent high school grad, working in his divorced mother's art gallery in New York City, sexually confused, almost completely withdrawn from society, a social misfit, if not outcast. I would say that this is another coming-of-age tale, but ... dang. Tough to categorize that way, even though we discover quite a bit about James as the story unfolds. I'm just not sure that James discovers much about himself. Some. Not much.

Someday This Pain is well written, kept my interest. It's young adult (not young teen, please), another quick read for a waiting room and an evening (I read nearly all of it while at the mechanic's for a front end alignment).

For the older teen in your household, if you're a careful, protective parent, I'd recommend you read this book before sharing it with your soon-to-be independent and gone child. The most painful thing about this book, I think, is James' feeling so lonely and lost, his near inability ro climb out of his personal pit. His depression is real, powerful, something I'm sure a lot of teens will connect with. In high school I read quite a few of Paul Zindel's books because of the teenage angst, the raw emotion and depression. And believe me when I say that I was not a depressed teenager. Far from it. Jokes, letter writing, sports, school - I was bouncy and Tigger-y. But books on depressed teens push all kinds of buttons with a large cross section of teens, I think, helping them form their identity, their attitude.

Not only is the depression real, as well as his beautiful expression of his thoughts (this book is well written - I loved reading the boy's unfolding inner workings, seeing them form), but the conclusion, though uplifting and having some resolve, still left me sad, disheartened. As an adult, I've been there, seen and done what it takes to drag and bounce and friend and pray and live to life and out of a pit of despair. There really isn't any arrow pointing the way out here. Some. Not enough, I think.

Maybe I'm not being fair, but as the mother of teens, I'd have a tough time recommending this book to other moms for their teens. I do, however, recommend Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You to moms of teens to read themselves. Especially if your child is struggling with life. Read it with open eyes, ready to grapple with your own teen years and what you learned, how you developed and changed and came to terms with life.

So. A rather ambivalent review, no? Not a Thanksgiving review, for sure. I do, however, wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving. Eat your turkey, and remember to be thankful. Be thankful, if nothing else, that you're no longer a teenager. :D

Until I write again ...



Mental P Mama said...

I think the world is so much tougher for them....And I am so thankful. So very thankful.

Daryl said...

Thanks for the review!

Pearl said...

Sounds like a good review to me. If I come across this, I will definitely read it.


Laura~peach~ said...

absolutely thankful Iam not a teen any more... what horrid years gah!

imbeingheldhostage said...

I think it's a great review. You have piqued my interest...