Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

*Side Note: February 4th and April 15 will be the best. On 2/4 both Stolen and Ignite Me come out. On 4/15 Raging Star and Frozen Come out. OMG.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on August 13, 2013
Pages: 273
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library Book
Avg Rating: 3.9/5
Author's Other Work: The Silver Linings Playbook
Goodreads
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Summary Blurb:

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.

In this riveting book, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.


The Review: (CONTAINS SPOILERS)

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is the first novel I have read from Matthew Quick. I saw Silver Linings Playbook a few months back and loved the movie, however I hadn't read the book so I wasn't experienced with the author.
My first experience with Matthew Quick was very good. I really enjoyed this book! Now, that being said, it was not the best book I have ever read.
There were minor irritations and a few things that bumped the rating down quite a bit.

Firstly, Characters.
I really loved the characters in this book. Leonard was extremely wise for his age and very relatable. I was able to easily empathize for him when I had never experienced something that he had. His descriptions, often humorous or vulgar, were necessary to give the tone that the author was trying to push forward. I really enjoyed reading from Leonard's perspective because even though he was considered "The Shooter", we were able to see the reasoning behind his decisions.
Aside from Leonard, the secondary characters were wonderful. I found myself thoroughly interested in meeting these people. The general plot of the story is that this young man Leonard is giving four gifts to his friends before he commits homicide and suicide. I was extremely impressed with the character development and introductions. I read the story for one purpose, I had a huge question in mind.
Will Leonard kill his friend? Will Leonard kill himself? What will happen afterwards?
I wasn't so sure he would commit suicide based on the fact that this was first person perspective, however I've seen such things happen before so I couldn't be positive.
What I found was that the story had me reading on for much more than simply these three large questions of mine. I started to care, and that is something that takes great skill for an author to do.
Oftentimes Leonard would go off talking randomly about somebody else and I was so invested in this minor characters story that I didn't even connect it was probably one of the four friends. This book had me interested from page one until the last. A large part of that were the characters. I'm not going to describe each one, but every character had a unique voice, background, and important part in the story. I was very happy with who I met while reading this novel.


Then...plot.
The plot was...good. I don't know if I can go very far beyond that. The story idea was extremely interesting, a young man giving gifts to his friends on his own birthday and planning to murder his ex-best-friend and then himself. I was obviously very intrigued to read the story. At the same time, I was reading the novel Columbine and so I was looking for an interesting fiction take on school shootings.
This was not at all about a school shooting.
I could argue it was about so much more, but I was really looking for that school aspect. Alright, maybe that's messed up to say, but I was looking forward to the intensity of a hallway conflict, a school lockdown, the kids trying to escape. I wanted to have that heart-pounding action, instead I was thrown off.
Leonard carries the gun with him, risking its exposure the ENTIRE school day, and plans to do the murder/suicide afterward. I simply didn't understand why. Couldn't he just go back home and pick up the gun? The mother wasn't home...it wouldn't have been a problem. The story led me up to expecting this grand school action scene and instead it didn't go that way at all.
However, aside from this I really enjoyed the progression of the story and how quick it all felt. My only problem with it is...the ending.

Screw this, the ending is getting it's own section because let me tell you, I have a damn lot to say about it.

The ending was shit. I'm sorry, that may not be the best way to word it, but I can't think of anything better. I was not satisfied or happy with how it ended. It was a very The Spectacular Now type of ending. (I'll post a review for that soon). Essentially *SPOILERS AHEAD* Leonard's ex-best-friend was raped by his uncle and therefore he raped Leonard. This was the reasoning for Leonard's hatred of him, and I thought that was a good, while clich├ęd, good catalyst behind the story. Something so intense made sense to be the reason that Leonard was pushed off the edge. However, when Leonard went to kill his best friend, the setting was outside his window which was very awkward and anticlimactic. He gets to the window and sees his friend jacking off. He takes a picture (which doesn't turn out), and leaves. Still though, he plans to commit suicide.
This I was okay with, at this stage in the story I had told myself...alright, well if he kills himself that will make for an interesting ending. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not all about school-shootings or suicide, I think they're tragic and horrible and do not promote them, however they make for good lessons and lasting impressions in story's. Instead though, this book took a turn toward the obvious.
Leonard does not kill himself because he is unable to fire the gun, he calls his teacher who talks to him and picks him up and brings him home. He is saved and suddenly he is fine. He tries to talk to his mother, she ignores him, he walks out.
That's it.

NO. DAMN. RESOLUTION.

Earlier in the story, when giving the gifts, everything goes awry. Everybody wonders what's going on and suspects something's up. They all react badly and he is left very upset.
I was hoping at the end of the story he would possibly go to a hospital, they would find out, and forgive him for acting so strange and apologize for their anger. I was hoping that something would happen to his ex-best-friend, so that he gets revenge. I was hoping the mother would be supportive, I was hoping Leonard would demand support. I hoped Leonard would get support and mental help. I hoped that he didn't just abandon the man who'd saved his life.
How, after that day, is he suddenly fine? How could he not receive help? He now has no friends, no parental support, no help for his mental health, his teacher is pissed, his rapist is free to have a great life.

I was just unhappy altogether and I hope people can see why. It really didn't make sense to me why it would end this way. I would've preferred the suicide ending and then an epilogue showing the impact on his friends and the legacy he left behind. This would have made for a surprise, a much more powerful ending, and an altogether better book.

All in all, I must say the good outweighed the bad. I really loved that in certain parts of the book there were chapters in which there were letters from the future. We found out why and I thought it was really interesting, that Leonard was trying so hard to tell himself to stay strong.

When I put it all in one piece, I told myself that this book probably deserves 3.5/5 stars.


I hope you guys enjoyed my review, and please do pick up this book, I really think it's worthwhile.

Until next time, happy reading!






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