5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leonard Peacock is heartbreaking and unforgettable
I've been an avid reader all my life and have suffered from depression for nearly 25 years, but this is the first time I have found a book that explains with such eloquence what mental illness feels like from the inside. Leonard Peacock is a beautifully written, unforgettable character who is wry and witty even as he plans his exit strategy from a life that no longer...
Published 12 months ago by J. Dawson
1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment
I was really looking forward to reading this as I'd heard such great things about it and it sounded very interesting. I wasn't sure about the author as I saw the film for Silver Linings Playbook and it wasn't really to my taste (although the book is probably better), but I thought I'd give this book a go anyway. Unfortunately, I only made it 16 pages before I lost the...
Published 15 days ago by Jennifer May
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leonard Peacock is heartbreaking and unforgettable,
I've been an avid reader all my life and have suffered from depression for nearly 25 years, but this is the first time I have found a book that explains with such eloquence what mental illness feels like from the inside. Leonard Peacock is a beautifully written, unforgettable character who is wry and witty even as he plans his exit strategy from a life that no longer holds any hope or joy for him. It's a tragic subject, yes, but this novel is a surprisingly easy and ultimately uplifting read. I couldn't part with it and read the entire book in a day. You will love Leonard, you will want to take him home, to love him and to fix him. If you have ever lived with or loved someone with depression and wished you could understand the black dog that occasionally grips them, this is as good an introduction as you will find. It may even enable you to help loved ones suffering from mental illness, which can only be a positive thing. I believe this should be required reading, to help us all to become more sympathetic and supportive of our fellow human beings.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark but hopeful,
Firstly, this book was listed under 'children's books', and I definitely wouldn't call it that. It's suitable for mature 15yrs and up probably, dealing with very dark themes including rape, suicide and violence.
Leonard Peacock is a young man neglected by his mother and misunderstood by many around him. The story begins with Leonard contemplating his day ahead, his 18th birthday, and a day he intends to consist of giving gifts to the people who matter in his life, before killing both his childhood friend Asher Beal and himself. It's quickly obvious why Leonard wants to kill Asher and himself, but Matthew Quick's writing never feels predictable or cliched. Written as a first person narrative, we get a strong sense throughout of how troubled and confused Leonard is, and as his gifts don't elicit the responses he hoped for, his feelings of powerlessness and betrayal struggle with his desire for peace and happiness.
Leonard's real saving grace is his teacher, Herr Silverman, and his message of hope is the undercurrent of the entire book. Interspersed throughout Leonard's narrative are 'Letters from the Future', which Herr Silverman has advised Leonard to write in order to find a way through his troubles. These are touching counterpoints to Leonard's suffering, showing the person he really wants to be.
I'd recommend this book for older teenage readers and adults, it's very well written and the kind of book you'd come back and read again.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable, engrossing and touching,
I thought this was a very good book. It is readable, engrossing and touching and also has some important things to say. Narrated by Leonard Peacock, a High School student in Philadelphia, it is the tale of one day of his life - his eighteenth birthday. On that day he decides that he will first shoot a schoolmate and then himself. (This is revealed on Page 2, so isn't that much of a spoiler.) We get Leonard's observations on life, what has brought him to this state and portraits of various people he knows, both the very good, the not so good and the "übermorons".
Leonard is (pretty obviously) an unhappy and rather disturbed character, but his narrative makes perfect sense in its own terms, and I found it genuinely touching and very believable. Much of the time he is just experiencing the sort of anxieties and disillusion which many of us have felt at some time, but considerably more intensely, which for me made the sympathy for him the more heartfelt as the events which have led up to all this are gradually revealed. His observations on the truly good people in his life are tender and sometimes moving, and he has some very shrewd things to say about the roles played by others, even those who are fairly incidental to the story. For example, of his school Guidance Counsellor, who expresses concern which Leonard meets with an emphatic speech about how he is fine, he says:
"Deep down she absolutely knows I'm bull[...]ing her, I'm sure of it. But she has a million problems to solve, hundreds of students who need her help, endless [expletive] parents to deal with, mountains of paperwork, meetings in that awful room with the round table and the window air-conditioning unit they run even in winter because the meeting room is directly over the tropically hot boiler room, and so she knows the easiest thing to do is believe me.
"She's fulfilled her obligation, assuaged her conscience by finding me in the hallway and giving me the chance to freak out, and I've played my role too, by remaining calm, pretending to be okay, and therefore giving her permission to cross me off her things-to-do list. Now she can move on, and I can too."
I think that's a very perceptive passage, just reeled off in passing, and there are a lot of others just as good. It gives a good idea of the style, too, which I found extremely involving and very readable.
The only question is whether you want to read another book about an angst-ridden and suicidal teenager. Personally, I think this one is well worth it; I became very engrossed and stayed up too late in order to finish it, and it has stayed with me strongly ever since. I think it's a really good book, and I recommend it very warmly.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and moving,
This review is from: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock (Kindle Edition)
Although I didn't enjoy this book in the conventional sense, it didn't make me happy and it left me pretty much hating some aspects of the society we live in, I couldn't tear myself away from the book. I was touched by Leonard's struggle, by the relationships with the four people he wanted to give a gift to before he died and the fact that even out of those four, just two really cared about him and only one of those people could truly be called his friend.
After reading the book one particular quote from the final 'letter from the future' (the letters are sent from a place called Lighthouse 1) has really stayed with me. "We never see any boats. But you man the light anyway-just in case. And we got to see it-all these years. The great light. The beautiful sweeping beam! We were here to see it, and that was enough." I found that it really summed up what I took away from the book, your life is that beam, you might feel useless because the people you want to sit up and take notice never do but you shouldn't extinguish that light because other people appreciate it, there is always a reason to keep going.
Honestly, I don't think there's anyone I wouldn't recommend this book to. I can see it becoming one of the timeless coming of age books in the future. Not everybody will enjoy the book or connect with it but I'd tell anyone to give this a go. The first person narrative really allows the reader to get inside Leonard's mind, I admit there are a lot of footnotes to read but to me that made it seem more authentic after all what real person has thoughts that are perfectly linear? I know mine will sometimes flit to another train of thought completely.
It was hard to watch everyone in Leonard's life ignore the warning signs but similar things happen all too often in real life too. I'm sure there are other parents who might brush off concerns as playing for attention. Quick really manages to address suicide in a way that everyone can understand and create a great book in the process.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Impact of Loneliness,
Matthew Quick admirably captures the essence of the character Leonard’s desperate sense of loneliness in this novel. The impact of Leonard’s decision to deal with his psychological dilemmas is a fraught prospect from page 1. Leonard’s depression is leading him towards a catastrophe that appears way out of control, with little seemingly to stop the awful path he has set himself.
With his 18th birthday forgotten by his mother, his feeling of alienation gains a focussed intensity. He feels ignored, an irrelevance, becoming intensely cynical and sad.
Leonard regards his mother as irresponsible, selfish, culpable and inhumane, and a phrase I particularly liked, “mentally absent”. The author counters what may be one-sided such an attitude by creating a character that is very empathetic, in spite of all this negativity. The author conveys Leonard’s profound sense of vulnerability, and the vignettes in the scenes with his neighbour Walt are particularly poignant. Normally he feels oblivious to most people around him, but this is such a special relationship, and Leonard can breathe in their companionship as they share time together watching old Bogart movies. I can’t help being reminded of the adolescents in the movie, “Stand By Me”, where there is a similar pathos in the characterisation, and sensitive vulnerability.
The philosophical idea that we all have the potential for good and bad is presented in a very emotionally intelligent way in this novel, and that there is the propensity for “doubling” for us all, (where parts of our lives can be boxed off, and can be bad and good at the same time).
The essence of hope in life, that pessimism can be overthrown by optimism if we “fight for the good times”, is indeed a life long task. Good things may well be ahead if you battle for it, and the author sells this message well with this story. At the end of the novel, I was left with the strong feeling that Leonard has taken this idea on, and may turn his life around as he walks into, with what one hopes, a positive future.
1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment,
I was really looking forward to reading this as I'd heard such great things about it and it sounded very interesting. I wasn't sure about the author as I saw the film for Silver Linings Playbook and it wasn't really to my taste (although the book is probably better), but I thought I'd give this book a go anyway. Unfortunately, I only made it 16 pages before I lost the will to live, an hoped that Peacock would shoot me so I wouldn't have to endure it anymore.
The first thing I noticed was how short the chapters were (one or two pages at the most), but I could live with that because it is supposed to be a Young Adult book, and most YA have fairly short chapters. Then I noticed the footnotes. They're pretty hard not to notice really, because they are everywhere. One footnote went on for THREE PAGES. I flicked through the book to see how many I had to endure and 90% of the pages carried large footnotes - everything seemed to be explained using them, which made the narrative seem very disjointed and seriously got on my nerves. I might have been able to live with that if it wasn't for the fact that the main character was a complete ass. Everyone's probably like that at that age, but he just seemed so pretentious and arrogant that I wished he'd kill himself already. That, coupled with the enraging footnotes and weirdly short chapters meant that I could not get into this book at all, and was very pleased to add it to the 'will never finish' pile.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, captivating and sincere,
In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say goodbye 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 also happens to be the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day Leonard kills his former best friend and then himself.
But first he has to say goodbye to the four people who matter most: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed neighbour, his violin virtuoso classmate, the sheltered Christian girl he has a crush on, and Herr Silverman; his highschool Holocaust teacher.
Through his interactions with them and letters from his future, the frailty of Leonard's hold on life is revealed. And as more of his secrets come to light, the moments tick slowly by, until finally it's time ...
Part of me wants to hit up Matthew Quick and ask him how all the characters are now and if things have changed, but there's a risk he'll go all Peter Van Houten on me, so I'll refrain.
Quick does a sensational job of showing Leonard's raw emotional state and desperate sadness. He creates an authentic, intelligent character, prone to bouts of poignancy, with a good sense of humour and who was entirely sympathetic.
I was fascinated by how Leonard saw the world and loved reading his insights. It also made me realise just how lonely he was; he sees the world so differently to everyone else, and can be captivatingly wise, which only makes him feel more alienated.
The sheer desperation he feels broke my heart and when he tries, again and again, to connect with people and is constantly rebuffed? I just wanted to cry (which is about as rare as a Scottish leprechaun).
And then, of course, we have the driving force behind Leonard's decision. One of the main things that has led him to this moment: Asher. Asher who deserves so much more than he got.
There were so many times I wanted to reach into the pages and pull Leonard out and let him know that even though the world can be crappy and people can be crappier, there is also a lot of awesome. I wanted him to know that loneliness is fleeting and sooner or later, we all find someone who loves us.
Thankfully, though, Leonard had people to support him when I was unable to reach into the fictional world. His relationship with his chain-smoking Bogart-obsessed neighbour Walt was beautiful and I adored the way they communicated through Bogart quotes. It made the painful, sincere parts of their conversations that much more intimate.
And then there was Herr Silverman, who just may be one of the best teachers in fiction. He was a fantastically caring character and one who truly wanted to make a difference in his students' lives. And he did make a difference. He really did.
Another thing I enjoyed were Leonard's footnotes. Though they were in weird places, they really provided an unbiased insight into Leonard's mind. His footnotes were sometimes funny, sometimes meaningful, sometimes just background information, but always a welcome bonus. And, really, the way they disjointed the narrative was perfect for the story (heads up though - this probably isn't a good one for e-readers).
The letters from the future, however, took some getting used to. The first few were just thrown in and I had no idea what was going on or if the book had suddenly taken a surprising Sci-Fi turn. It was only after a conversation with Herr Silverman, that I realised what was going on and began to appreciate how wonderful those letters were and what they represented: Leonard's last glimmer of hope.
As for the ending? Well, I had a bit of a 'THAT'S IT?' moment. Not because everything got tied up in a pretty bow, but because nothing was tied up. No bow. No wrapping paper (not even the weird kind that doesn't rip). It just ended. But the more I thought about it after, the more I realised that it was the perfect ending. Because for Leonard there isn't a resolution: there's just bad days and good days.
This novel is dark and gritty (and at first, downright scary), but then it slowly starts to pull at your heart in ways you never would've thought. This is a story that will resonate, one where you'll be unbelievably emotionally invested and one that will end like like most good things in life do: abruptly, without notice and leaving you with an aching for just a bit more.
Favourite quote: 'Did you ever think about all of the nights you lived through and can't remember? The ones that were so mundane your brain just didn't bother to record them. Hundreds, maybe thousands of nights come and go without being preserved by our memory. Does that ever freak you out? Like maybe your mind recorded all of the wrong nights?'
Overall rating: 5/5 little birdies
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4.0 out of 5 stars I can only imagine this book would be marmite to many you would love or hate it,
This book was a surprise for me. Being sold as a book for a younger person the content is seriously grown up hitting nerve after nerve and truths which any reader can equate to.
It handles with grace and understanding depression and the extremities of the condition, it pulls no punches. Anyone who has suffered depression or has just felt desperation and anxiety will empathise with the main character and understand in a heartbeat the many facets of his line of thought.
For many readers this maybe a book which covers feelings and thoughts they have tried to bury deep down, to others it may scare or shock.
For me it held my focus, unable to put down I travelled a roller coaster of feelings and horror. I can only imagine this book would be marmite to many you would love or hate it.
This is a well written, well executed and maybe timely aimed book covering a previously taboo subject, would I recommend yes I think I would but be aware you need to read the back page with all the description of content first and make that informed choice before you hand over to a young teenager first.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heart-breaking and darkly funny,
This review is from: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock (Paperback)
When I saw Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock up on Netgalley as a Read Now title, I didn't hesitate for a moment and downloaded it immediately, as I'd heard nothing but good about the title when it was first published in the US. But while I knew it was a well-received novel, I'd forgotten what it was about exactly, so when I started the book I didn't really know what to expect. What I got was a darkly funny, painfully honest, and heart-wrenching story about a troubled teen who is more alone than people realise and less alone than he knows.
The central character and narrator of the book is the titular Leonard Peacock. He's a troubled young man, deeply traumatised by events in his past that is alluded to from the start of the book, but only revealed in its entirety halfway through the narrative. These events have driving him into a profound depression, only exacerbated by the neglect and abandonment he suffers at the hands of his parents. When we meet Leonard he has hit rock bottom and he can see no way out. Yet despite his depression, his sense of worthlessness, and his loneliness, Leonard has a distinctive voice and he is deeply, darkly funny. His wonderful sense of humour pervades the tragic tale he tells and makes the pain and sadness of his tale bearable.
On his final day Leonard wants to give the four people who have kept him going a farewell present. These four are his neighbour Walt, his class mate Baback, his friend Lauren, and his teacher Herr Silverman. All of them have a connection to Leonard, three of them in that they offer an escape for Leonard, be it through film (Walt), music (Baback), or visions of the possibility of a different life (Lauren). Only Herr Silverman doesn't offer an escape as much as he offers validation of who Leonard is, that he is worthwhile in and of himself. He seems to care about Leonard, about who he is, how he is feeling without any underlying motivation, other than being kind and a good teacher. He reminded me strongly of my favourite teacher at secondary school and reminded me how much difference the kindness of one person can make to a teenager and how important that was to me.
Leonard's main adversary is Asher Beal, who surprisingly is Leonard's former best friend--from best friend to arch nemesis is a big shift. Asher is only shown as evil, which left me conflicted, because he is as much victim as aggressor. This is reflected and enhanced by Leonard's guilt over the feeling that he should have saved Asher, once it became clear something was wrong with him, even if he was victimised by Asher. While Asher plays such an important role in Leonard's development into who he is in the book and in his plans for his birthday, we hardly see him as an active player in the narrative. Leonard relates the events from the past and during the 'now' of the novel Leonard runs into him at school and trades insults, but that's it. One the one hand, it makes it easier to just see him as Leonard does, on the other it also leaves him rather flat as a character.
The one person in this book that I just couldn't understand was Linda, Leonard's mum. I can see how it would be awful to have what happened to Leonard happen to your child - just the thought of it happening to one of my girls gives me nightmares - but how on earth can you just abandon them because you can't deal with it? And how selfish do you have to be to not want your child to get the help he needs, because you don't want to be told that everything is your fault (the reason she won't let Leonard see a therapist)? I just couldn't see my way past that. Parents generally aren't portrayed in the best light in this book. Both Linda and Mrs Beal are portrayed as oblivious and in Asher's case enabling, and both dads seem to be absent. Lauren's parents are only mentioned in the context of Lauren's being home-schooled and their faith, not in terms of their actual parenting.
Quick's writing is different, with typographical tricks, elaborate footnotes, and interludes in the forms of letters from the future written by Leonard's future loved ones. These last confused me a bit, because I hadn't expected this rather science-fictional element to show up. I loved the use of the footnotes as some of the most important things were said in the footnotes, they were a fun way to tell more of Leonard's history, without breaking the immediacy of the narrative of Leonard's birthday.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock addresses some very tough issues, such as bullying, abuse, and depression, but does so without sermonising or becoming so bleak there is no returning to the light. Matthew Quick's Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a wonderful book, one that touched me deeply. Leonard's journey through his birthday was deeply tragic, at times desperately funny, heart-breaking and uplifting. It ends on hope, hope for a happier future, for justice, but mostly a future, any future period.
This book was provided for review by the publisher.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and utterly brilliant - one of the best books I've ever read,
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is all sorts of amazing. Intelligent, poignant, witty, provocative and deeply touching - I freely admit it made me cry big fat ugly tears while I was reading the final chapters on the train home from work.
Leonard Peacock is a self-absorbed and highly unlikeable character yet I sympathised with him immensely and through author Matthew Quick's raw and honest portrayal of his main protagonist I came to understand what could drive Leonard to such extremism. I don't condone his choices nor do I believe it is ever the solution, but I did came to feel greatly compassionate towards him. After all, as Herr Silverman in the book says, we can simultaneously be human and monster - both those possibilities are in all of us.
At the heart of the novel is the very sensitive subject of suicide which could have easily made this a melancholy and emotionally draining novel, and while there were certainly occurrences of that it was also surprisingly witty and humorous. Furthermore, Leonard is highly intelligent and his fascinating and depressingly accurate perspective of the world, his existence and that of the drones around him made for a riveting read.
The book was also incredibly thought-provoking. Not just about the more obvious topics such as suicide and the immense impact bullying can have on a person, but also about subjects that are covered in Leonard's classes such as Shakespeare and the holocaust; these were less touched upon but equally attributed to making this such a unique and brilliant piece of writing.
Quick has a magical way with words and I relished each and every one of them within this novel, they conveyed so much in their simplicity. For example:
"It's a depressing reality how my classmates make love to their ignorance."
"You're different. And I'm different too. Different is good. But different is hard. Believe me, I know."
After this nothing short of brilliant introduction to Quick's writing I'll be sure to check out his other novels as well, because I definitely need to read more books of this calibre and which are both emotionally and intellectually stimulating.
It's been a while since a piece of fiction has reduced me to incoherently gushing over its contents, but Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is all kinds of special and I cannot seem to find the right words to do justice to just how much it has touched me and made me think.
Beautiful and utterly brilliant this simply one of the best books I have ever read. Thank you Matthew Quick, thank you very much.
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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (Paperback - 16 Jan 2014)