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6 of 6 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 15 months ago by J. Dawson

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Young adult novel on theme of depressed high school student
'The P-38 WWII handgun looks comical lying on the table next to a bowl of oatmeal.'

Since Columbine there have been several novels dealing with the psychology of the high school shooter. Leonard Peacok starts his day intent on murder/suicide. However, The tone quickly makes you realise that this is not We Need To Talk About Kevin (Serpent's Tail Classics) or...
Published 7 months ago by Purpleheart


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leonard Peacock is heartbreaking and unforgettable, 5 Sep 2013
By 
J. Dawson (Edinburgh, UK) - See all my reviews
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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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark but hopeful, 30 Jun 2013
By 
Fiona Millar "cookiemum" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable, engrossing and touching, 18 Nov 2013
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and moving, 19 Aug 2013
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Young adult novel on theme of depressed high school student, 15 May 2014
By 
Purpleheart (UK) - See all my reviews
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'The P-38 WWII handgun looks comical lying on the table next to a bowl of oatmeal.'

Since Columbine there have been several novels dealing with the psychology of the high school shooter. Leonard Peacok starts his day intent on murder/suicide. However, The tone quickly makes you realise that this is not We Need To Talk About Kevin (Serpent's Tail Classics) or even Vernon God Little. Somehow, we know that Leonard will find a reason to live and let live. Unfortunately, this novel is not a match in terms of writing chops either. It's readable and predictable YA fiction.
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4.0 out of 5 stars if you want to go in completely blind just know I would recommend this book, 20 Sep 2014
By 
Lucybird (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock (Kindle Edition)
Okay, so to review this book in any sort of decent way I have to reveal an important plot point. It’s major, but not really a spoiler, you find out in the first few pages. However, if you want to go in completely blind just know I would recommend this book, and don’t read any more of this post.

Leonard takes a gun to school. He plans to kill one boy. A boy who has made his life hell. Then he plans to turn the gun on himself. First he wants to say goodbye to his friends. Will anyone work out that something is going on? And can they stop him?

I picked this up from netgalley mainly because I’d heard good things about one Quick’s previous novels; The Silver Lining’s Playbook (which was made into a film). I didn’t expect some literary great, but I liked the sound of the plot, and I was interested to read it. I wasn’t disappointed.

The one thing which really struck me about this book is how much I liked Leonard. I didn’t think I would be able to have more than sympathy for him, and whatever had made him want to become a killer. I liked him though. He was a little weird maybe, but I like quirky people. I didn’t want him to kill anyone, I didn’t want him to start shooting that gun. I can’t say I didn’t believe that he would, but I thought there might be a chance he would see another way. Each time it seemed like he might give up on his plan, and at times when it seemed he would see t through I was impassioned, either cheering that it might be okay, or hoping that he might still not do it.

For a long time we don’t really know why Leonard wants to kill his classmate. We can see why he dislikes him, but not why he hates him enough to want him dead.

I don’t think I can say much more without spoiling. It’s a fairly easy read. It’s style is conversational, and it isn’t all doom and gloom, there is a little humour there too, mostly black humour, yes, but it provides light relief.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Impact of Loneliness, 28 July 2014
By 
Sandford "Sandy" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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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.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, 31 Aug 2014
By 
Jennifer May (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
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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.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, captivating and sincere, 3 Oct 2013
By 
What Occurs:

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 ...

My Thoughts:

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, 30 July 2014
By 
foxcylady - See all my reviews
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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.
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