Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Have I ever told you how much I enjoyed The Silver Linings Playbook? Well I did, a lot. And it’s this sort of adoration that can cloud the mind when reading another book by an author you enjoy. Luckily for me, it didn’t.

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.Synopsis from GoodReads

Teen shootings aren’t something I know much about, or feel completely comfortable reading. Considering what has been in the news with the last year, it’s a subject I feel needs to be handled carefully. Not that it gets that far [SPOILERS] because Quick doesn’t make Leonard a killer.

Which is fortunate, because for the first part of the book I didn’t care much for him. His accounts of school segregation, seemingly thinking differently to the people who are around you, feeling different, where themes that resonated only once Leonard’s personality and personal circumstances were divulged. Without knowing more about him, you could see why his peers found him difficult.

Which made me feel guilty; I’ve been the child who feels misunderstood and the thought of doing that to another me was worrying. We can be selfish individuals, with our own problems we are working through, and that makes it difficult to notice that everyone else is going through problems as well.

Leonard is hyper-intelligent, beyond the schooling he is receiving, he skips school and follows the depressed looking adults to work, to see if adulthood really is that meaningless. I can see how to Leonard the people who aren’t in the career they want, aren’t getting the promotion or recognition they feel they deserve, aren’t happy in their personal lives do make adulthood look like one massive struggle where things don’t get better.

We cloak our lives in a veneer of contentment and stability that so rarely is an accurate reflection of how it is or how we feel. Asher is helpless as he is abused by his uncle, and thus Leonard is helpless as he is abused by Asher, his best friend. Speaking out so rarely feels like an option, especially when your family – as Leonard’s is – does not want to see the glaringly obvious truth.

As these tragic events are unveiled and Leonard’s Holocaust teacher Herr Silverman comes to his rescue I began crying, and continued to do so until the end. Leonard’s insistence he is okay, his inability to fully rely on someone for fear of being a burden, the guilt he experiences feeling the only people he should lean on are his useless parents, his understandable lack of trust due to a series of people letting him down…. These resonate. Quick is the master of writing broken characters, I only wish I could have seen Leonard move towards a content resolution.

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2 Comments on "Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick"

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Charlie
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I wondered if said spoiler might happen, just from the synopsis this sounded ‘more’ than the story initially presented. I wouldn’t have expected it to be so emotional though – you saying it made you cry. That makes it pretty appealing as it must be pretty powerful.

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