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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock Paperback – July 1, 2014
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Publishers Weekly Best Book
"Full disclosure: you might need tissues to make it through Leonard Peacock, but even if you don't, you'll likely be touched by Leonard's story."―Entertainment Weekly
"At a time when bullying and gun violence is at the top of the national conversation, this novel servies as a literary segue for teens, parents and teachers into an open dialogue on sensitive topics."―USA Today
"If only Hollywood could get novelist Matthew Quick to write faster. Everything the Massachusetts-based writer pens seems to be scooped up by the studios as soon as the books are bound."―The Los Angeles Times
* "Quick's use of flashbacks, internal dialogue, and interpersonal communication is brilliant, and the suspense about what happened between Leonard and Asher builds tangibly. The masterful writing takes readers inside Leonard's tormented mind, enabling a compassionate response to him and to others dealing with trauma."―School Library Journal (starred review)
* "Quick's attentiveness to these few key relationships and encounters gives the story its strength and razorlike focus...Through Leonard, Quick urges readers to look beyond the pain of the here and now to the possibilities that await."―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
" Over the course of one intense day (with flashbacks), Leonard's existential crisis is delineated through an engaging first-person narrative supplemented with footnotes and letters from the future that urge Leonard to believe in a "life beyond the übermorons" at school. Complicated characters and ideas remain complicated, with no facile resolutions, in this memorable story."―The Horn Book
"...the novel presents a host of compelling, well-drawn, realistic characters-all of whom want Leonard to make it through the day safe and sound."―Kirkus
"Quick is most interested in Leonard's psychology, which is simultaneously clear and splintered, and his voice, which is filled with brash humor, self-loathing, and bucket loads of refreshingly messy contradictions, many communicated through Leonard's footnotes to his own story. It may sound bleak, but it is, in fact, quite brave, and Leonard's interspersed fictional notes to himself from 2032 add a unique flavor of hope."―Booklist
About the Author
Matthew Quick is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, which was made into an Oscar-winning film. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages and has received a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention, among other accolades. Matthew lives with his wife on North Carolina's Outer Banks.
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As with many YA novels, the adults in *Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock* are ineffectual when they’re not being downright mean and dismissive (Leonard’s mother is probably one of the most detestable adults ever to appear in a YA novel). Herr Silverman, Leonard’s Holocaust studies teacher, is the one exception. Like Leonard, Herr Silverman harbors a secret that makes him feel different from most of his peers. And he is the one adult in the novel who makes a genuine effort to connect with Leonard and understand him.
This is by no means an easy novel to read, but I suspect most will want to plow through it (as I did) because Quick’s writing resonates so honestly, and for all his quirks and hard-earned adolescent angst, Leonard is a likeable character. The book’s title remains a mystery (intentionally, I believe). Is it a plea for forgiveness signed by Leonard, as in a note or a letter? Or is it a plea for forgiveness that is being addressed to Leonard? The story provides justification for either interpretation, and the title’s opacity is but one of a number of ambiguities central to the novel.
High school senior Leonard Peacock is at the end of his rope. Not only is it his 18th birthday and no one realizes it, but he's feeling more and more alone and unhappy every day. So he has decided today is the day he is going to kill himself using his grandfather's WWII P-38 he took from a Nazi officer, but he is also going to kill his former best friend, Asher Beal.
Then perhaps people will feel badly for the way they've treated him, especially his mother, who has essentially neglected him.
But before he commits his final acts, he's determined to give going-away presents to the four people who impact his life--his elderly next door neighbor, the Bogart-loving Walt; Baback, a fellow student and secret violin prodigy; Lauren, the home-schooled Christian girl on whom Leonard has an unrequited crush; and Herr Silverman, his favorite teacher, and one of the only people who treats Leonard with respect for his intelligence and sensitivity. As he reflects on his relationships with the four of them, he becomes even more determined to carry out his plan.
In one day, with one decision, your life can change. How do you know what path to take? Can you believe those who promise things will get better, even if so many people around you don't seem happy with their lives? These are the questions that Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock strives to answer. But like life itself, there are no perfect answers, no easy solutions.
This is a pretty depressing book, both in its portrayal of the loneliness and alienation Leonard feels, and the stark reality that far too many people in real life share his feelings, and take the actions he is contemplating. Leonard is an unusual person caught in some unfortunate situations, and you can see that even the little bit of hope that people offer seems too little too late for him.
I've enjoyed Matthew Quick's previous books (particularly Silver Linings Playbook), and he has done a great job in developing Leonard's character in particular. I felt as if the book left a few issues unresolved, so I may need to re-read some of it, but you absolutely sympathize with what Leonard is going through. This book is definitely a downer, though, so it's best you don't read this if you're feeling emotionally vulnerable yourself.
While the book is geared toward the YA market, this is definitely one adults can and should read. I do hope that at least one person contemplating suicide will read this book and feel slightly more hopeful about the future than Leonard did, and ultimately be moved not to go forward with such a permanent solution to a temporary problem.