Forgive me, Leonard Peacock
Matthew QuickLittle Brown: New York, August 2013.
ARC reviewed, provided by publisher
Leonard Peacock has resolved to do something on his birthday: say goodbye to the four people who have influenced his life, and then kill his former best friend and himself. Though he begins the novel as ultimately unlikable, in visiting his four connections, Leonards own story is revealed in fits and spurts. Though he is justifiably disturbed and his thoughts are often upsetting, he humanizes himself despite his best efforts to alienate the readers. Not the cheeriest or most uplifting of premises, this is both a book worth picking up and sticking with. Despite the bleak outlook, Matthew Quick turns out what is ultimately a hopeful novel that demonstrates the importance of the human connection. For the right person at the right time, this book could be a very powerful tool. It is recommended for older teens 16 and up, and adults.
Guys - this is not a book I really wanted to read after reading the summary. I mean, gun, in a school? Kid who wants to commit a murder suicide? I was...not stoked. It all sounds so terribly bleak, doesn’t it? But the lovely rep at ALA’s Little Brown booth told me it was phenomenal. And it’s by Matthew Quick, he of the Silver Lining’s Playbook and the super awesome Boy 21, which you may recall me loving! So I dragged my feet, and eventually picked it up.
I did not like Leonard at first. I probably don’t still super like him, if I’m honest. But I do respect him, and at times was so sad for him that I wanted to give him a hug, despite the fact that I suspect it’d be a bit like hugging a hedgehog. He’s a kid that has had a heaping pile of you know what dumped on him in part by kind of (same word here) parents, and has had some even worse things happen to him at the hand of an equally damaged individual. He is, however, smart, and ultimately kind and curious. He sees things that others don’t, and for that I have a lot of respect for him -- especially because he’s not afraid to ask questions and talk to the people that others ignore. I love his connection with his elderly neighbor. (Sidebar: Old people are people too! They’re super fascinating too, you guys! I wish I had time to do like a Big Sister, but be the little sister, with an Old) I also really love his letters to his future self; they’re both zany and a totally heartbreakingly hopeful escape when you need it the most as a reader.
This is a great book in a lot of ways, though again, rather difficult to commit to even starting. As I mentioned above, for the right individual at the right time, it could be powerful. For the rest of us, it is a lesson in human kindness. SPOILER: It could be a perfect fit for kids looking to follow up on The Thirteen Reasons Why, especially because there’s a redemption of the anguished character here that 13 Reasons kind of lacks; Leonard takes a second chance to forgive and grows bigger as a person. Anyways. It’s dark, and not my favorite, but you should totally try it if you’re in the market for something unique.