Sunday, 25 August 2013
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Author: Matthew Quick
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Released: August 1st 2013
Pages: 208 (eBook)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Add on Goodreads
In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I'm sorry I couldn't be more than I was--that I couldn't stick around--and that what's going to happen today isn't their fault.
Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather's P-38 pistol.
But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart--obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school's class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.
In this riveting book, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made--and the light in us all that never goes out.
I read this book in four hours. Four. Hours. And those four hours were an emotional rollercoaster. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is one of my favourite ever reads, full stop. I liked Quick's other novel, The Silver Linings Playbook, but this is on a whole other level. I feel like I've been searching all my life for a book like this.
It's Leonard Peacock's birthday, and to celebrate, he is going to murder his ex-best friend before committing suicide. Leonard hasn't been 'right' for a very long time, and as he goes to say goodbye to the four people who have influenced his life the most, he gradually reveals what happened all those years ago that has haunted him ever since. Leonard needs things to change, and killing himself seems like it is the only viable option.
For a good portion of the novel, the reader is left in a shroud of mystery. Something happened between Leonard and his best friend, Asher, but for the most part it is a complete guessing game. It could have been anything, really, and the best part of the mystery was how Quick gradually let it unfold until it sprung up to slap you in the face. I admire Quick for writing a book that deals with such a difficult and quite taboo topic. Spoiler alert here, but boys getting raped is not an issue brought up as much as it is with girls. Yet it's just as bad, and I loved him for targeting that and bringing the seriousness of the issue to life.
For all his quirky aspects, you can't help but love the character of Leonard. He slips into your heart, and all his pain works its way into you - and considering that this is a book surrounding his pain, that is a heck of a lot of hurt to go through. Quick made his narrative quite humorous and alive, so despite the dark and depressing themes, it was easy to love him. I think a part of what made him such a heart-breaker is how incredibly alone he was. I have never come across a lonelier character. Every way Leonard turns, every time he tries to do something nice, people rebuke him. He's crying out for help, and you're dying to help him but can't. I will never be able to explain how sad this is.
Although this book deals with an uncomfortable subject matter in general, I think the thing I found most unsettling was how easily I could relate to Leonard. I'm not saying that I would suddenly decide to kill my ex-best friend or off myself, but I could just understand the frustration and worthlessness that Leonard demonstrated, and I think a lot of teenagers - or just people in general - will be able to sympathise with that.
I'd be lying if I said that I was satisfied by the ending. I wasn't - I wanted more; I needed closure. On one hand, it was a great way to finish, as the reader can make their own judgement on what happens to Leonard. Does he get help? Does he kill himself? What becomes of all those lives he's touched? What happens to Asher? That's another thing about this book that I am torn on - did I want to see a direct confrontation with Asher? I think I kind of did.
Overall, although it tore my heart out, I loved this book, I truly did. I'm sure other authors have written books with similar subject matters, but this novel still manages to have this unique aspect about it. It is a must-read, so I definitely recommend it - however, I would also strongly advise that when reading this, you keep a packet of tissues close-by. Trust me when I say that you will need them.