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Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You - Peter Cameron

4-4.5 stars if reviewed as an adult title.

5 stars if considered a YA title.

I recently watched the film version of The City of Your Final Destination and liked it enough to pick up my copy of this book, by the same author, which has been gathering dust here for a couple months. For whatever reasons, the description on the cover just never seemed compelling enough to pursue the content, and while I could kick myself for putting it off, I find that I’ve now read it at the right time, and like so many others, have only the best to say about it. Cameron simply does a lot well with this coming of age novel.

For STPWIBUTU, I prefer bildungsroman, or foundational novel, because neither implies the formulaic limitations found in many YA coming-of-age novels. But calling this a YA novel might be hasty. In this case, even the publishers (FSG Books for Young Readers for the hardcover and Picador for the paperback) seem at odds as to whether the novel is YA or not. The Picador version is clearly not marketed to the teen reader, and that’s as it should be. Often reviews will say something like “appropriate for young adults” or something to that effect, which can imply both a high interest level and a vague sense of appropriateness (i.e., not too much ‘adult’ language or content). This definitely has the high interest level (for some), language like you’d expect in any high school hallway, and NO sex. Yeah, that’s right, no sex—so what makes this a gay novel? Well, like it’s YA status (or lack of it), it’s also not exactly a gay novel either. It might be.

The description on the GR title page is adequate to give you a sense of the story, although ‘devises a fake online identity in order to pursue his crush on a much older coworker’ overstates both the protagonist’s intent (pursuit?) and the ‘much older’—ness of the coworker. This is a fast, funny read with a memorable protagonist whose woes aren’t those of typical YA fiction and presented without the angst that makes them tedious. Equally suited to adults and older teens. I like what the Horn Book review said of this title: a spare, spacious, quietly dazzling book for teens and former teens.It will satisfy any mature reader.