Customer Reviews: The Silver Linings Playbook: A Novel
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on September 5, 2008
IN The Silver Linings Playbook, Mr. Quick has done something very difficult for literature to do: inspire hope. As the unflinchingly and endearingly honest main character notes, many of the greatest classics in American literature end in despair, or are such thorough condemnations of life as it is that it is difficult sometimes to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The lives of the authors often mirror the grim reality of their novels. Hemingway shoots himself dead with a shotgun and Plath sticks her head into an oven. Pat Peoples' explanation? They never looked up at the clouds at sunset.

It is this simple kind of appreciation for beauty which distinguishes Pat not just from his literary contemporaries, but from all of the other characters in The Silver Linings Playbook itself. He appreciates characters like Hester Prynne and Holden Caulfield who, like himself, hold onto their values and nobility in a harsh world that seems bent on stripping them of everything they hold dear. Though Pat himself is slightly deluded - he is not just on 'apart time' with his wife, there is no 'inevitable reunion' as the first chapter title suggests - his honest, everyman's struggle, epitomized by the apt adage of 'practicing being kind rather than right', against all the forces in the world conspiring to break his hope is so convincing that the reader starts to believe in silver linings himself.

This book will make you happy, though, because of the way it is written. Most of the chapter titles will make you laugh in a different way than the next. Mr. Quick's apt use of detail, allusions, and brilliant comparisons bring the story to life. That a chapter should be called "Like he was Yoda and I was Luke Skywalker training on Dagobah" is a very precious thing. Meanwhile periodic interludes such as advice from Pat's 'black friend Danny', and even the whole introduction of the death of Veterans Stadium as a new thing, bring bits of humor just when the story may seem to be becoming sad. The author has an eye for quirks and intricacies of language and a gift for conveying them in a readable yet still emotional and romantic manner. More than just the ease of identifying with Pat, Mr. Quick's simple, declarative prose, highlighted by brief, nostalgic-filled, almost Hemingway-like sentences, reels in the reader.

Peoples seems to represent the Hemingway ideal of masculinity: courage as grace under pressure. Pat has much grace under pressure. Slips from this grace he deeply regrets, and is always molding himself into a good person, even when no one is watching and no one cares. His entire self-improvement program was aimed towards a person who would never know he had ever changed a bit.

But there is no tragic ending to match this altruistic ideal, as there is in many Hemingway stories. Though there is bad in life, there is good also, and Pat, like his author, knows where to find it.
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on September 10, 2008
Philadelphia is not only the home of the quintessentially American Liberty Bell, cheese steak, and Rocky, but now Philadelphia offers us another American original: Pat Peoples, the neurologically-damaged, ex-wife pining, mother-loving, uber Eagles fan protagonist of Matthew Quick's dazzling debut novel The Silver Linings Playbook.

You might think that a book about a guy who has lost so much--his wife, his home, his job, and many years of his life in a mental health facility--would be depressing. Far from it. In fact, this book is uplifting. For what Quick offers us is not just the brutality of life--a father who won't talk to his son, a cheating wife, many violent tempers--but also the beauty of it--finding love in unexpected people. Basically, Quick shows us that no matter how far down you fall, there are people willing to help you pick yourself back up. Quick gives us hope.

Does everything turn out the way Pat wanted it to? No. But it does turn out just as it should: with two broken souls coming together, hoping, and believing in the silver lining.

In short: a gorgeous, poignant, funny and uplifting book. Read it.
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on September 6, 2008
Excellent book that both men and women would enjoy. Very fast read and one that I could not put down. I was late for a lot of appointments and stayed up late because I had to finish just one more chapter. Although Pat Peoples has just been released from a psychiatric hospital, he appears to be the only "sane" character in the book compared to his family and friends. The book weaves the reader through the Eagles 2006 season as Pat struggles to fit in and resolve many of his personal issues. Pat always tries to "be kind rather than right" and is confident that with hard work, on his part, that his life will lead to a happy ending. I would highly recommend this book and can't wait to read Mr. Quick's next novel.
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on April 6, 2013
As the parent of an adult bipolar man, this helped me to understand just a little better what the internal dialogue must be like for him - the struggles to make sense of things, the struggle to maintain appearances while thoughts are racing. I laughed, I cried - this is an endearing and insightful book. I read the book after seeing the movie - and while I liked the movie, I wish it had stayed truer to the book. It could have been even more powerful. If you have family members who are a little "odd," this is a good read for you.
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on April 21, 2009
I've never met a character like Pat Peoples before, and now that I have, I won't forget him. This story is funny and sad, wonderfully endearing, slightly mysterious, and equal parts sacred and profane. The author has a distinctive voice, one utterly without pretense.

We meet Pat on the day he is being discharged from a mental health facility into the care of his mother. Pat is obsessed with reconciling with his estranged wife and everything he does has a single focus -- to bring about the end of "apart time" (as he calls it).

As the story unfolds, we begin to understand Pat and he begins to understand himself. One has the odd sensation of helping him along as we read along. If we stop reading, what will become of Pat? (That feeling probably explains why I literally could not stop reading this book until, alas, there was no more to read.)

The descriptions of male friendship are brilliant, and the supporting characters equally vivid. Buy this book! It is a great read.
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on July 26, 2011
This book provides an interesting look at depression and disfunctional families. The main character was sad but often laugh-out-loud funny, a sign of good writing. I read this book quickly which is unusual for me. It was very entertaining, pretty much a page-turner. I did foresee the ending, however.
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on April 30, 2014
I read this book because I'm a huge fan of the movie (I've seen it at least 7 times by now). First off, I have to mention that the book is kind of a different story than the movie. Because of all the differences, I'd go as far as to say that I love both stories for different reasons. The Pat Peoples in the book seems to be troubled on a deeper level than the Pat S. of the movie. But, I followed Pat's story here, and was rooting for him to get to a silver lining. Pat was so hopeful, even to the level of delusion. In his desires, he was so human and likable. More than that, this book truly shows the good, bad, and strange parts of living with mental illness. He did strange things (like humming to avoid talking about the Eagles), but by knowing his motivation, I actually understood what he was doing and why. By having a character so richly drawn, it made me step for a second into the shoes of someone struggling with mental illness and feel, even briefly, some of their reality.
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on March 8, 2013
I'll be honest right off the get-go, if it wasn't for my desire to see the movie and all the awards I would have never made it past the first chapter. Sometimes the author's desire to show Pat Peoples (the main character telling the story) as a simple, emotionally broken man comes off instead as if Forest Gump is talking. A grown man that says, "the bad place" like a three year old gets really annoying after what seems like a hundred times in just a few pages. The same goes with "apart time." So much so that I would like to go the rest of my life without ever hearing those phrases again. Also really hard to read the parts where he keeps mentioning his "black friend" and then repeats incredibly stereotypical lines. And one more writing issue- people don't describe scenery and how light spills in through windows when telling stories, specially if it has nothing to do with the story- that's what narrators are for.

Outside of that I undersand why a movie was made from the book- the characters and the underlining story takes a hold of you. You're invested. Not just in the main character but in a slew of characters. You're rooting for two emotionally broken people. For a mom. For a brother. For friends and therapist.
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on July 21, 2013
I haven't seen the movie yet, but considering the rave reviews it's getting, I would almost bet this is one of those rare cases the movie is better than the book. I'll keep it short.

It feels like this guy wrote this book a bit dumbed down, for the character's voice, because the character is mentally ill. That irritated the crap out of me because mentally ill is not the same as mentally handicapped, which is what it felt like was trying to go for. Either that, or the writer is just not very good. The writing was stilted and kind of slow, and sometimes to wordy. Not eloquent and descriptive wordy, but more like that friend of yours who just won't stop talking and they keep repeating the same thing like four times.

I also feel like the author wrote this book to be a movie. It was as if, he wasn't writing a good novel, but just something that producers could read, option, and turn into a movie. I can't explain it any better than that. The narrator kept saying, "This is the movie of my life" and things like that, and it made it feel as though he only wrote this book in the hopes of getting it made into film.

How I felt about this book can best be summed up by this: I read it on my Kindle, and I got to 90% and put it down to go to sleep, just prior to the big climax (which wasn't all that impressive, and was pretty predictable, since this was basically a rom-com). I didn't pick it back up for three days.

I didn't hate this book. It wasn't terrible. It was, well, just okay.
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on February 3, 2009
I read an article in the Courier Post(a South Jersey newspaper) about the book and I thought it looked very interesting. Let me tell you, this book is awesome. The characters are so real. I related to all of the Philly references as I was born and raised there as was the author. I'll be telling my friends and family to buy this book. Great First Novel! I'm looking forward to more from this author.
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