Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Genre: contemporary, suicide/drugs/issues
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
That was so tragic and terrible yet oddly beautiful at the same time.
A rather strange coincidence is that I watched Silver Linings Playbook over the weekend, and really enjoyed it. The next week, I received an invitation to read this novel via Netgalley. The blurb read, "From the author of The Silver Linings Playbook, this powerful novel is one of our in-house favorites." You can probably guess that I jumped at the chance to read this book.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is the story of Leonard Peacock on the day he decides to shoot his ex-best friend, Asher, and then kill himself (it just so happens that this day is also his birthday). Leonard has been planning this day for a while now, and he has four presents to give to the people who are special to him - Walt, the old man next door with whom he's bonded over Bogart movies; Babak, the once-outcast who has helped heal Leonard with his prodigious violin playing; Lauren, the Christian girl who he has a crush on, but who doesn't return his feelings; Herr Silverman, his off-the-beaten-path history teacher and role model. You could say that some of these gift-giving incidents go better than others...
Leonard's mother is AWOL as usual, and no one else seems to hear his silent cries for help. As Leonard goes through the day, you are both horrified by and strangely sympathetic towards this very insightful yet broken young man. When you finally find out what "that stuff with Asher" is, it's pretty horrifying. I'm not saying it justifies homicide, but I think it is sufficient trauma to explain (again, not justify Leonard's extreme reaction.
This is definitely a difficult read, because of all the trauma and intense emotion associated with abuse and suicide. Still, there are plenty of beautiful observations about life and a few characters who do care, and you see how the smallest gestures make the biggest difference (both in pushing someone towards suicide and helping them step away).
I can't say I enjoyed this book, but I am glad I read it. My emotions when I finished this were a melting puddle of I-don't-even-know-what-to-say. It's not a happy ending, but it definitely could have been worse...in any case, this whole book is bittersweet with a side of sadness. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but if you're ever in the mood to deal with some heavy yet insightful stuff, discover Leonard Peacock's story for yourself.
*An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*