Book Reviews

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by: Matthew Quick

13477676[1]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. (Goodreads)

I went on a three week vacation to England and Scotland prepared to continue my voracious reading schedule. I ended up reading a few lighter, romantic books and then started Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock with the intention to review it when I returned on August 13th…the day it also was released!  But the tone and message behind the book made me put it on hold until I returned to give it the proper attention it deserved.
I have loved Matthew Quick’s writing since reading and then viewing one of my favorites, Silver Linings Playbook. He is so talented in capturing the inner thoughts of someone who is “struggling” and even better with the relationships that person has with the people around them. This is a must read for parents, teachers, school counselors and maybe even teens who might be going through such turmoil as Leonard Peacock went through. It’s a tough subject matter regarding a murder-suicide of a teen who feels lonely and desperate to belong. We have all seen the headlines of terrible school shootings and wonder how someone (a child) could feel so low to commit such a tragic act.
Matthew Quick’s honest voice is a necessity in our culture today. It brought me back to those tender years when a best friend can turn on you so quickly and make your life a living hell. It happens more often than not and reading it didn’t make me uneasy but made me feel appreciative that Quick explored this topic. Leonard had such insight to his life and the people around him. You never know what people are going through even if they appear “fine” on the exterior.
“How do you measure suffering? I mean, the fact that I live in a democratic country doesn’t guarantee my life will be problem-free. Far from it. I understand that I am relatively privileged from a socioeconomical viewpoint, but so was Hamlet-so are a lot of miserable people.”
But with a sad story you always find the heroes. Teacher Herr Silverman and neighbor Walt made me choke up several times. Their interactions with Leonard were beautiful and trustworthy. Friendly and honest. Supportive and encouraging. It made me think back to the days when I was a full-time teacher and hopefully impacted a student who needed my support and non-judgment. Even today, as a part-time teacher, I will remember how important my interactions are with my students. Every moment counts!
“Good things are definitely in your future, Leonard. I’m sure of it. You have no idea how many interesting people you’ll meet after high school’s over. Your life partner, your best friend, the most wonderful person you’ll ever know is sitting in some high school right now waiting to graduate and walk into your life-maybe even feeling all the same things you are, maybe even wondering about you, hoping that you are strong enough to make it to the future where you’ll meet….You’re different. And I’m different too. Different is good. But different is hard…This is only a small part of your life. A blink.”
~ Herr Silverman
Don’t go into this book thinking it’s all too much doom and gloom and covers a topic that would make you cringe. It did the opposite. It reminded me of all the “Leonard Peacocks” out there who are different and need a chance to be heard and more importantly deserve to be treated with kindness. It also reaffirms how interactions with loved ones, friends and strangers leave an impact. And my favorite quote for all of us “over-thinkers” and who get lost in our heads way too often: “Weed your mind”.*Note: There are footnotes throughout the story and they are important. I read this on my tablet via a Kindle app and maybe the app hasn’t been updated to handle the switching back and forth, but it was a bit annoying…losing my page every time. I am sure the print version is much easier to navigate. But don’t skip the footnotes!!*I was kindly given this ARC via NetGalley and was not compensated or expected to review this book publically. I just wanted to! 🙂

Amazon          Barnes & Noble

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