Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

"I feel like I'm broken- like I don't fit together anymore. Like there's no more room for me in the world or something. Like I've overstayed my welcome here on Earth, and everyone's trying to give me hints about that constantly. Like I should just check out..."
Recently, I borrowed this book from work. It sounded like a difficult, interesting read. One night, one of my coworkers mentioned the book. I was about to tell her how I planned to read it, then she surprised me. She mentioned that she tried to read it, but she didn't like the subject matter. The main character plans to bring a gun to school and kill a classmate and himself. She was horrified that such things were written about, and she expected me to agree.

I was dumbfounded. Reading the description, even the beginning of a book doesn't tell you how it will end. I admit that school shootings and murder-suicides are controversial subjects. But, the coworker thought that writing about these things might further mess up troubled teenagers. I think that ignoring these things can mess them up more. I think that maybe a teenager might recognize that the narrator is troubled in some way, maybe in the same way as them. That could help a lot more.

On to the business of reviewing: today is Leonard Peacock's 18th birthday. He has a plan. He will deliver gifts to his four friends, kill his former best friend, and then shoot himself.

It's easy to see that Leonard isn't having an easy time in life. His mother is busy with work and her boyfriend. She doesn't even remember his birthday. He has a lot of issues and hurt feelings caused by his ex friend. It's also difficult for Leonard to see things getting better as her gets older. Sometimes, he dresses up in a suit and tie and pretends he is going off to work. Sitting in the train station, he observed countless adults going off to jobs that they hate, day after day.

Do anything! Something! Because you start a revolution one decision at a time, with each breath you take. Just don't go back to that miserable place you go every day. Show me it's possible to be an adult and also be happy...

His teacher advised him to write letters from himself in the future, telling him how great everything is. These letters are featured every few chapters, from future Leonard, his wife, and daughter. Their future features an apocalyptic wasteland, but Leonard is alive and happy.

The biggest question of Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is whether Leonard goes through with his plan or not. There are no opening paragraphs that give glimpses to a happier future. I really think that was a good choice. The reader can't see how it will end until the end arrives.

This ended up being a really good book. It's pretty heavy and there is quite a bit of swearing. I ended up in tears more than once. Overall, it's really well-written and the characters are all great. It's not always the easiest book to read, but I am very glad I read it.

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