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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 16 November 2008
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When I first started reading this book, I didn't quite know what to make of it, particularly the narrator, Pat - I found myself getting slightly irritated with him. But his sweetness and innocence grew on me, and I realised after the first chapter that I was turning the pages with my fingers crossed for him.

The story begins with Pat leaving a mental institution and trying to return to normal life, into a family which has been devastated by his incarceration. He is desperate, with a childish simplicity by turns endearing and exasperating, to get back with his ex wife, Nikki and his whole life focuses on this. But why did they really split up? And where did Pat's mental problems begin? What is the real problem with Tiffany, his new friend with her own mental and emotional difficulties?

This book is easy to read: it's very simply written, yet the matters it deals with are complex. At times I was laughing out loud, at others I had tears in my eyes. The author takes away the stigma of mental illness and you warm to his characters. While Pat is the narrator, his friends and family have their own smaller story to tell about what happened and how it has affected them. You come away from the book feeling slightly better for having known them, and for those with limited experience, perhaps a little more perception of mental illness. I look forward to reading another by this perceptive and gentle author.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 November 2008
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Pat Peoples is just out of `the Bad Place' - an institution where he's been for the past four years after a massive breakdown. He believes his life is a movie written and directed by God. He has a terror of Kenny G who haunts him in the night. He's lost his life and his home, and only lives to build the perfect body so he can win back his beloved wife, Nikki.

Pat is so angsty and damaged and utterly adorable. He knows he `screwed up' before with his rages and selfish demands. Now he only wants to 'practice kindness' as he moves through his small world, making friends wherever he goes - with his mom and his football-crazy brothers, with his analyst Cliff and his friends, the equally football-crazy, all-Indian, Asian Invasion Bus. Even with his sister-in-law, the deranged Tiffany, who, it seems, everyone thinks would be the perfect partner for him.

Hilariously funny, touching, delightful and heart-breaking, and possibly the best book I've read this year.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2013
I went to see the film adaptation of this novel last month, absolutely loved it and then the friend I went with went on to buy me the book.

The book and the film are very similar, protagonist Pat has been in a psychiatric facility for some time when his mother calls time on it and checks him out. Post-breakdown Pat has a new philosophy : he is determined to look for silver linings and happy endings and he's going to turn himself into the perfect husband to his wife Nikki. The thing is, Nikki is nowhere to be seen, there's more than one restraining order in place, and what exactly happened to send Pat to "the bad place" is never spoken of. Living not quite in-step with reality, Pat strikes up a friendship with the equally damaged Tiffany.

The film of this book made me howl with laughter and was really popular with the audience I was in, and the film has been true to the book in the sense that it recreates some of the books best moments like "the Hemingway scene". This is however among some of the rare cases where film beats book, the book gets dragged down by the sporting side of the narrative, players and scores etc, in a way that the film doesn't, and is so well acted that it is easier to take the characters into your heart.

The differences towards the end give the book the edge in terms of realism, and particularly Pat's struggle with the concept of time is left out of the film presumably because it would be hard to express visually, but adds weight to the extent of his delusion in the book yet ultimately for me the heartwarming humorous film is a 10/10 but the book is only a 7.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really enjoyed this book. Although it's fairly apparent what the plot is going to be pretty much from the first page, it's written in such an engaging style with such likable and believable characters you get drawn in to the story.

The story follows the recovery of Pat, who is suffering from mental health problems following the breakdown of his marriage. The breakdown has transformed Pat, and despite his problems (including a perfectly understandable aversion to singer Kenny G) he is recovering. The story contrasts the slightly immoral personalities of the 'sane' people in his life with the higher physical and mental standards Pat now feels he has to attain and maintain in order to win back his wife. That makes it sound rather worthy and heavy going, but it's a very funny book and light and easy reading while at the same time managing to ask that old question 'what does sanity actually mean?'

Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 26 October 2008
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I could not put this book down!

Pat is struggling with mental health issues. He has just left hospital and is trying to get his life sorted. He is estranged from his wife Nikki and all that spurs him on is the belief that his life is like a movie. Pat believes in silver linings. He is working hard to improve himself so that he will be rewarded by the return of his wife so that they can live out their happy ending.

This is an extremely well written book. Quick has captured Pat's struggle with mental disorder in the text and the reader can't help but feels his pain and root for him throughout. It is a very well thought out story with excellent characters and a great plot. I really can't think of a single fault, except perhaps that I would love to know what happens next!

Very highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
If you have no interest in the latter, you may still appreciate this book, despite perhaps learning much more about the Eagles than you never wanted to know anyway! As this becomes a delightful, frustrating, sometimes (to a female) incomprehensible, irritating but wildly funny example of some of the frankly WEIRD ways in which chaps bond!. And if you adore American football, and even more if you are an E-A-G-L-E-S! EAGLES! Fan, delighting in making the shapes of the letters with your legs and arms when with your buddies watching at home, or being present at, a game, you will love this

Pat is a man in his mid thirties, though he believes he is some years younger, having spent more time than he realises in a `neural health facility' in Baltimore (a psychiatric hospital) Pat committed some sort of violent act, and has an obsession with his ex-wife. He is an incurable optimist, dedicated to happy endings in films and determined that the silver linings on clouds, and the happily ever after, must happen. Following his release from the hospital, engineered by his loving mother, he must agree to regular therapy, and a regimen of psychiatric drugs. He has returned to living in the parental home. He has agreed to all of this, and is working hard on shedding the weight he put on in hospital, his goal being to become again the sports and history teacher with a great body which he had when he met and married his ex-wife. He is convinced they can get together again.

In his life he has : a loving mother, a great and supportive and successful brother, a best friend, whose wife has a sister with mental health issues of her own, the kindest and in some ways most unprofessional of therapists, another great friendship with a fellow inmate in that `neural health facility'. He also probably has Asperger's - at least, this is what accounts for his voice, which sounds not cold, but without emotional nuance and subtlety. Pat, despite being prone to a violence he barely understands when he hears smooth jazz music, particularly a specific piece of music played by Kenny G, is a `good person' with a warm and open heart. He is actively working on `being kind'. He also has an extremely dysfunctional father, who is deeply depressed and emotionally cold.

Part of Pat's journey to try and get re-united with his ex-wife, an artistic, intellectual literature major and teacher, is to begin to read through some of her favourite books, particularly those she taught to her students. So he reads, and responds to such books as The Great Gatsby, A Farewell to Arms, Catcher In The Rye, The Bell Jar, responding to them with approval or dismay according to his `Silver Lining' philosophy, and need for the happy wrap. There is a lot of warm humour in the author's use of this.

I held back from the final star because the overall tone of this warm, charming and sweet book, despite the bleakness which appears along the way at times, is perhaps a little too anodyne and Hollywood. This did not quite equal my first acquaintance with Matthew Quick: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, which I preferred. Nonetheless, recommended

This was made into a film, which I haven't seen, and didn't know about, so my review is from someone coming new to the book, purely from my appreciation of Quick's writing in Leonard Peacock'
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 January 2013
Meet Pat. Pat is crazy. Pat has also just been released from the loony bin back into the care of his parents at the age of 34 and is eager to reunite with his estranged wife, Nikki. But he's not completely cured. He still has a number of pills to take and a new therapist to see, but he's back with his family and has begun putting together the missing pieces of his past. Because Pat can't remember the last couple of years nor can he remember why his wife divorced him and got a restraining order out on him. It doesn't matter to Pat, who's going to focus on getting fit - running 10 miles a day, doing hundreds of push-ups and crunches, and hours and hours of weights - because thinking positive will make his wife fall back in love with him and his "movie" will have a happy ending. But Pat is going to find out why he had a breakdown and why he and his wife will never be together again. His memories are slowly coming back...

Matthew Quick has written a brilliant novel and I'm here to tell you, you should read "The Silver Linings Playbook" because it's a feel-good story about two insane people who can't function in society and there aren't enough books like that. On the one hand you have Pat, a man who goes nuts and starts screaming when he imagines Kenny G appearing in front of him and playing his sax - specifically "Songbird" - which sends Pat into a blackout rage. And then there's Tiffany, a woman who is as emotionally damaged and crippled by clinical depression, with a tragic past, a bizarre dream and a questionable future. Quick has these two characters, both dealing with serious issues and with some really sad histories, and somehow makes you, the reader, not only like and root for them, but also makes their story one of the most uplifting experiences in modern literature.

It's great that Pat and Tiffany are such interesting and likeable characters because this isn't a plot heavy book. Nothing much really happens - we find out about Pat's life slowly through his mother, his father, his brother, his best friend, before moving onto his family's obsession with the football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. If I had known that American football would be such a central part of this book, it would make me think twice as, like most Brits, American football has no interest for me. But instead of focusing on stats and the kind of esoteric details that hardcore sports fans are known for, Quick instead writes about the fans' personalities, the atmosphere of game day, the tailgate parties, the brotherhood of fandom, and it makes someone who doesn't care about the sport, care about it.

It's written in the first person with Pat as the narrator who is desperately trying to remain upbeat in the face of a barrage of new information about how the outside world has continued on while he's been away. Quick adds nuance to Pat's voice by giving him a kind of forced happiness, making you aware of how fragile his mind is by his insistence of focusing only on the positive and blocking out the negative as if just the mere mention of anything pessimistic would destroy his childishly simplistic happy worldview. It's an effective approach that shows you he's mentally unbalanced in a beautifully subtle way, and I can understand why some people have likened this narrative voice to Mark Haddon's character Christopher Boone from "The Curious Incident...".

I could talk about this book for hours, I utterly fell in love with Pat's world, as messed up as it is. His parents, hell all of the characters, are fully realised with convincing dialogue and personalities. All of the scenes are well written and there were loads of moments throughout the book that I loved like the dance contest or the essays on classic American novels that Pat's reading to "better himself". And the small moments Pat has in between the big scenes like with his brother Jake and his distant father watching an Eagles game together for the first time in years or carrying his downtrodden drunk mother to his bed and making her swallow a tylenol and water before letting her doze off. And maybe best of all, the ending with Tiffany in the snow and what she whispers to him. It's kind of like how a romantic comedy ends - but altered for crazy people. And it's perfect.

"The Silver Linings Playbook" is a warm and accessible novel that I can't see anyone picking it up, not loving completely. Yes, parts of it are predictable, I'm not totally blind to certain moments in the plot which I saw coming from a long way away, but the book is so great and the characters so wonderful that I didn't care and just got swept up in the story. Imagine "Fever Pitch" crossed with "Prozac Nation" and you've got an idea of the kind of novel this is. Matthew Quick's debut novel is a delight and I'm so taken with it, I'm going to seek out his other two novels immediately. This is a book that can be read in two or three sittings but I made it last as long as I could because this is one of those rare stories that, just dipping into for 30 or so pages, can make the rest of your day that much better. This is just a great novel that I think anyone and everyone will love. P-A-T! PAT!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2010
This is a wonderful book that is possibly the best thing that I have read this year. It is told in the first person by Pat, whose mother arranges for his release from 'the bad place' which is how Pat describes the mental institution in which he has been a patient for several years (although he believes it has only been for a few monoths). The book follows his re-emergence into the world, which is often painful and poignant, but always written with a light touch and leavened with humour. One of my favourite phrases is when Pat says he didn't react to an incident because he was 'practising being nice not right' which made me laugh out loud.
If the author has no direct experience of mental health issues, he has researched very well, because the way the book is written allows you to identify with Pat's thinking and reasoning (and fears) - this is what makes the book so poignant at times, as life is reported through the prism of Pat's view of the world. An earlier reviewer had said that they were annoyed by the lack of progress that Pat makes despite all the pills and therapy. Well, mental health can be like that, because it isn't like breaking your arm. And Pat does progress. He might not reach 'normality' but who can define that anyway?. The author, to my mind, pitched it just right.
The book could have ended up very heavy but it isn't - I read it in two sittings and absolutely loved it, rooting for Pat, and almost wanting to protect him from 'Real life' when he finally faces it.
I have been recommending it to everyone I know - it's a delightful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book is one of the featured books of the Channel 4 "TV Book Club" series, though I have yet to watch the programme, which I believe is the replacement for the defunct "Richard and Judy Bookclub", and chose the book because of its quirky title which intrigued me somewhat.

This book is most definitely set in America, the kind of America that at first sight almost seems very famiiar to British readers as it features American football games, beer, a therapist and a well-intentioned "Mom". This world, however, is Pat People's world, and it soon becomes clear that Pat doesn't quite inhabit the same world that the rest of us think we live in.

Pat, the hero and narrator of the book has been released from an institution at the start of the book, which he refers to as "the bad place". It soon becomes very clear that he has been suffering from, and continues to suffer from, some sort of mental illness and the reader is drawn into his world as Pat rediscovers it himself. He is hell bent on a programme of self improvement through physical exercise and reading, all in aid of making things right between him and his wife "Nikki", from whom he is having "apart time" in his words.

We find out at the same time essentially as he does what exactly has been happening in the time that he can't remember, the time which has elapsed whilst he has been in hospital, which turns out to be longer than he first thinks. We also come to realise that his wife Nikki isn't maybe quite the ideal woman that he thinks he must win back.

What follows is a funny and sensitively told tale of discovery that I found really compelling to read, and well written by the author. I found that the author's portrayl of Pat avoided cliche and being patronising. Though at times it did seem from some of his actions as he struggled with his inexplicable anger and seemingly irrational fear of Kenny G, as if you shouldn't like Pat, somehow I always did, and I always wanted to know what happened to him.

The other characters in the book were well drawn too, from Cliff the therapist who Mom has found, through to Pat's brother Jake and Tiffany, who seems in a similar strange place as Pat, the different characters as mainly seen through Pat's eyes are made to seem very real. The Eagles, an American Football team are almost another character in the book, Pat's life outside the institution is punctuated by their games and accompanied by the Eagles' chants and team spirit.

The Eagles seem to be the only way that Pat can communicate with his father and they feature quite prominently in this book. For me personally, I have absolutely no interest in Football, of the American or other description, and cannot really relate to anyone being fanatical about sport, but somehow the Eagles side plot didn't detract from the enjoyment I got from this book.

I really enjoyed some of the funny scenes in the book - Pat finds himself in all kinds of strange escapades, such as being cajoled into taking part in a very strange dance competition with Tiffany, and meeting up with another former inmate of the institution in the most improbably of circumstances. In some parts of the book the seemingly sane characters in this novel seem to do the craziest and funny things, you could question whether anyone or this book is of sound mind, or maybe it is a good reminder that mental illness is only a step away for any of us (and indeed a high proportion of us will suffer from it in one way or another through our lives), at times Pat seems as bewildered by what he sees around him as I was and you can't help but understand why.

Other parts of the book are more poignant, or reveal the scary places that mental illness can take one, but what I thought was particularly good about the characterisation of Pat was that at no point did I find his illness completely overshadowing who he was - you never forgot that he was a person, albeit a fictional one. I wanted to believe, like Pat, that the world does have silver linings and all things end well if only you try hard enough.

Talking of endings, I wasn't entirely sure that I was satisfied with the ending of this book, which required rather a suspension of belief in some ways, however I did that it was one of those books where I would really like to know what happened next. This is always a sign to me that I have read a good book. I am sure that I will read this book again as a second reading I am sure would fit more pieces of the story together.

I fully enjoyed this book, TV Book Club label or not it is a good, fairly light read which succeeds in transporting the reader to a different place, which is what I assume the title is referring to, and making you see the world a little differently, and for this alone, and for the fact that it is a very good read, I recommend it. (review may appear elsewhere in my name)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2009
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I absolutely adored this book, from the writing style to the content. It was so easy to dip in and out of; addictive but not in the sense that you felt you had to read it all in one go. I found that the subject matter of mental health was very well dealt with, and Pat was well developed as a character.

Perhaps not the most likeable character in the world, nevertheless, there was still something endearing about Pat, and I was rooting for the book to turn out well. The development as Pat tried to adjust to life outside the mental health facility he was released from in the first few pages seemed to go at a good pace, and Quick showed that it is not as easy as simply being released and suddenly being fine again. I liked the pacing of the book as the protagonist's past is gradually revealed to the reader, and it feels as though we go on a journey with him, as he too works on his issues, and befriend the man as we gradually uncover new things.

Unfortunately, the plot could be said to be a little predictable by the end, but it was a good journey and I found myself not minding the fact that I knew what was going to happen- something which is not normally the case.

This is touching, as well as amusing, and at the root a story about human relationships as well as mental health. There is a strained father son divide; an unconditionally loving mother and a handful of other little relationships which are all well written and believable. I enjoyed reading this and felt satisfied when finished, which is something which unfortunately seems missing from quite a few novels. A brilliant debut: I would definitely recommend this.
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