Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a teen/YA novel by Matthew Quick, probably more widely recognised for his novel The Silver Linings Playbook which was turned into a Hollywood film. I was sent the book for review by Amazon Vine in exchange for my honest opinion.
I had already read The Silver Linings Playbook when this arrived, and wasn’t sure what to expect. I had mixed feelings about TSLP. The book reminded me of work by Jonathan Tropper, who I love, but I found TSLP slightly lacking. I wanted more emotion than was on offer, given the subject matter. I wondered if I would feel the same way about Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, particularly given that this is meant to be for younger readers.
As it turned out I felt that Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was a much more powerful and profound reading experience than TSLP. Leonard is a truly troubled young man, who has a fairly horrific family life, and who because of, or on top of this suffers from a depression which leaves him feeling absolutely hopeless.
The book starts on Leonard’s eighteenth birthday when he has decided to give presents to the most important people in his life, before giving himself the most important present of all, by killing his ex best friend Asher, and then killing himself. This is not giving anything away in terms of plot, by the way. This is all laid out by Leonard in the first chapter of the book.
The book pulls no punches and plunges you straight into Leonard’s world with no safety net. His friends are a strange mix of people who feel a great deal of sympathy for him, and people who are as messed up as he is, and other people who Leonard has practically forced his friendship onto in order to try and give his life some sense of purpose, shape, and most importantly, hope.
Gradually, as the book progresses we understand the tipping point for Leonard from every day misery into the excruciating torment of his current predicament, and begin to see how he can feel so isolated and adrift. Leonard’s lack of parental help and care, and their inability to guide him through his life means that he has no social skills and nobody in a position of authority who is able to help him, particularly when he cries out for help with one hand and rebuffs it with the other.
The book climaxes in one horrific night, and one brief morning, and a situation which is ambiguous enough for you to make your own mind up about Leonard’s next step.
It is a dark book, but one which I think could be hugely influential in a positive way for teen readers, particularly those who might be struggling with emotions like Leonard’s. I found it very moving and engrossing, and utterly exhausting. It is not suitable for pre teens at all, and I would recommend it for ages 14 and up.
I would not be in the slightest bit surprised if this book also, is turned into a film. It is very cinematic in scope and feel, in a good way, not in a way that makes you feel that this has been lifted wholesale from a film script and badly hashed into a novel.