A first kiss. Falling in love. Going to prom. These are all normal things that most teenagers experience. Except for 17-year-old David Hart. His life is anything but normal and more difficult than most. Because of the disease that wracks his body, David is unable to feel pain. He has congenital insensitivity to pain with anhydrosis--or CIPA for short. One of only a handful of people in the world who suffer from CIPA, David can't do the things every teenager does. He might accidentally break a limb and not know it. If he stands too close to a campfire, he could burn his skin and never feel it. He can't tell if he has a fever and his temperature is rising. Abandoned by his parents, David now lives with his elderly grandmother who is dying. When David's legal guardian tells him that he needs to move into an assisted living facility as he cannot live alone, David is determined to prove him wrong. He creates a bucket list, meets a girl with her own wish list, and then sets out to find his parents. All David wants to do is grow old, beat the odds, find love, travel the world, and see something spectacular. And he still wants to find his parents. While he still can.
Painlessby S.A. Harazin
Drawing on her background as a nurse, author S.A. Harazin, incorporates her medical knowledge into Painless, a contemporary fiction novel geared towards young adults.
Male protagonist David is a teen who suffers from a rare disorder which makes it physically impossible for him to feel pain. This may seem like an awesome problem to have, but in fact is a very dreadful condition, that if not agonizingly monitored can lead to dangerous injuries and fatality.
Told in first person, David narrates readers through his life of learning how to understand and cope with what he cannot physically feel, and the deep emotional toll this takes on him. Living a sheltered life to protect himself from environmental harm has left David socially inept and lacking in life and behavioral skills. This reads sufficiently as David's encounters with other characters are often awkward and disjointed. The only other character that David interacts well with is his dying Nana. This relationship is tender and assists in the development of David's personality. Unfortunately, the subsidiary characters do not have a developmental disorder to fall back on to explain their own lack of dimension as they often feel flat. This especially rings true for David's love interest, Luna.
David's yearning for more activity fosters many small challenges. The author could have taken any of these problems and singularly used it focus on character and plot development; instead she chose to use all of them and have them solved quickly and without much expansion, causing it to feel rushed and inadequate.
A thought-provoking read, I wish the author had spent more time on the evolution of the plot and characters. Though it is not a terrible novel, it comes across as incomplete; notably the ending which is not conclusive.
Not as dramatically tragic as The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Painless, may still be a contender for those who enjoy medical and emotional turbulence. Intrigued? You may also like CJ Lyons' Broken.
Profanity/Language: 11 religious exclamations; 2 mild obscenities; 3 scatological words; 1 anatomical term.
Violence/Gore: Many (10+) reports character's past accidental injuries, some blood and broken bones mentioned; memory of being punched by other children as a child; secondhand report of accidental death of character's friend; character remembers having a gun pointed at him/her; character briefly witnesses a car accident; brief recollection of being beaten up by other kids as a child; character lunges at other character causing them to fall, grabs them by the neck; character threatens character with physical harm to their sex organ; character purposely closes door on another character's fingers; character accidentally smacks another character with and object knocking them down; secondhand report of suicide; characters become injured in a storm, blood and broken bones mentioned; secondhand report of deaths and injuries caused by natural disaster.
Sex/Nudity: Character is undressed for doctor examination (2x); character mentions looking at Playboys (2x); character briefly inquires about sex; implication of masturbation to pornographic images; character undresses to examine body for injuries; memory of being a child and feeling adults sweater not realizing he/she was touching adult in an inappropriate manner; friendly hug (4x); female character complains roommate has various men over and they spend the night; adult warns adolescent to avoid sex; character threatens character with physical harm to their sex organ; mention of other characters making out; characters hold hands (2x); brief kiss; character inquires if another character has had sex, they reply yes; male character notices and admires female character's revealing dress; comment on being unfaithful.
Mature Subject Matter:
Abandonment by parents/rejection, rare inherited disorder, sickness, elderly demise, death of loved one(s), suicide.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Mention of accidental pharmaceutical overdose; elderly character requests wine and cigarettes; underage character drinks wine; adult warns adolescent to avoid drugs and alcohol; underage character orders and takes a sip of beer; underage character tries to purchase beer; wedding has an open bar, adults and underage character drink.
Reviewed By MaryLou