Parents' Guide to

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Powerful, mature book about bright teen's alienation.

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What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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James will touch the patient reader with his desperate sadness, discomfort, dark humor, self-awareness, and fear. Like Holden Caulfield, James is a bright, financially well-off New Yorker who has had a breakdown of sorts, stemming both from a general sense of disconnection from humanity and from a specific traumatic event that is only gradually revealed. Like Holden, his inner monologues and way of looking at the adult world will sound familiar and ring true.

The adults in James' life, including his ineffectual psychiatrist, care in a distant sort of way, and readers may long to shake them out of their narcissistic stupors. The ending, such as it is, comes abruptly and doesn't really resolve anything. Perhaps it's this all-too-realistic touch, along with its sophisticated verbal style, that makes this funny, moving novel seem, like James himself, not to belong to its peer group.

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