Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Young Adult Books -

On the day that seven­teen-year-old Quinn’s fa­ther dies, Quinn is hit by a car. The ac­ci­dent is mi­nor, but Quinn feels no pain—he never does.

Quinn feels no phys­i­cal pain be­cause he was born with a neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tion. Be­cause of this, he in­ter­acts with the world dif­fer­ently: he has no aver­sion to hurt­ing him­self, which fas­ci­nates and wor­ries those around him. Of course, Quinn doesn’t ac­tively court dan­ger or pain, but that doesn’t stop it from find­ing him. Most kids with his con­di­tion, he notes, don’t reach adult­hood, be­cause they don’t even re­al­ize the dan­ger they’re putting them­selves in. Quinn is a re­bel­lious, smok­ing, drink­ing youth, reck­less to a de­gree at odds with his dan­ger­ous con­di­tion.

Quinn’s first-per­son nar­ra­tion al­ter­nates with his sis­ter Caitlin’s third-per­son story. While Quinn at turns seems self-pity­ing and self-de­struc­tive, Caitlin is try­ing her best to keep her fam­ily’s life to­gether, even as she un­rav­els along­side with it. The switch­ing per­spec­tives help ground the story, pro­vid­ing some re­lief from the dark ex­ploits and darker at­ti­tude of Quinn. There isn’t much bright­ness in ei­ther: Quinn and Caitlin’s lung-can­cer ridden fa­ther dies early on, and the fam­ily strug­gles to deal with the af­ter­math.

The main es­cape for Quinn is his art: early on, his art teacher, Ms. Bar­nett, told him that all men­tally healthy peo­ple cre­ate art, which was how peo­ple in­ter­preted the world or com­mu­ni­cated to other peo­ple their vi­sions for it. Quinn cre­ates great amounts of art, though it isn’t clear, as the story un­folds, whether he would fall into the cat­e­gory of “men­tally healthy.”

Pain­less is a dark and har­row­ing read, about a bro­ken fam­ily and its bro­ken son strug­gling to find some sort of re­lief. A se­ri­ous and some­times omi­nous tale, it of­fers glimpses of hope to its tor­tured, twisted char­ac­ters, who have to find their own sort of so­lace in the midst of their tragedies.

Jamie Mayer, Rare Bird Books, Soft­cover $15.95 (208pp) 978-1-942600-85-5 SPON­SORED CON­TENT

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