Friday, January 27, 2017

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock -

Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Format: Paperback 

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 look at a day in the life of a disturbed teenage boy, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a look at one boy's life on the day he is going to kill hos best friend, then himself.  We find out little morsels about Leonard's life throughout the book - like the fact that his mom just up and moved to NYC, leaving him behind to care for himself, and also the fact that his former best friends Asher raped him for months before Leonard finally said enough.  This book was at once a revelation and a heartbreaker. 

Leonard has little in his life to live for - or at least that's what he thinks.  Many people who are right on the verge of suicide don't think about just how much they have in their lives - they are in a very desperate situation.  Suicide is never an easy topic to discuss.  But it's a necessary one.  People need to be more candid about asking if someone is in crisis or is suicidal.  People need to know that it's okay to look for signs in their friends and family members to see if that person is thinking about suicide.  Leonard had that in his teacher - Herr Silverman was the person who noticed that Leonard was completely messed up.  He gave Leonard his personal cell phone number, telling Leonard to call him if Leonard felt like he was going to kill himself.

Anyway, I digress - let's talk about what I actually thought of the book.  I 99% loved it.  The 1% I didn't like was that I found it hard to believe that Leonard's ONLY FRIEND was his elderly neighbor Walt.  Maybe the fact that he had been raped for so long by someone he trusted made it hard for him to befriend people.  Maybe he just genuinely didn't like people. Who knows?  But the chances are that Leonard had at least one friend his own age he could have turned to or who would have noticed something was wrong. 

Other than that, I think the book was very well written and the characters were well developed.  It was easy to get insight into Leonard's anger, and to understand just why he was so angry.  I do think that his mother was an idiot and that she either should have stayed with him, moved him with her, or found another capable adult to care for him while he was still underage.  Maybe then someone would have realized even sooner what had happened to Leonard and he could have gotten some therapy (because, let's face it, he needed therapy and what teenager is going to go to a therapist on their own?) 

I think in some ways Leonard was a bully.  When he met Lauren, for example, he earned her trust almost instantly because he told her that he wanted to get to know Jesus.  Now, granted she did seem like the type to trust people easily, but that's neither here nor there.  He goes to her church, where he proceeds to mock her because of the religious tracts she was handing out, and was asking her and her boyfriend if they ever parked their car somewhere to have sex - it may not sound scandalous, but the way that he phrased it was incredibly horrible.

The story definitely seemed cohesive from beginning to end - and flowed as smoothly as one would expect in a book that also has some flashbacks. When Leonard finally called his teacher, after a failed attempt to shoot himself (because the bullets wouldn't come out of the gun), it totally seemed plausible.  I was pissed that he just up and left the next morning without even talking to his teacher though.  Herr Silverman went out on a limb for Leonard and he acted like he didn't even care.  Of course, he could have picked up that attitude from his snotty mother. 

At the end, when Leonard just walks out of his house leaving his mother behind, I was not at all surprised, except for the fact that their is a cliff hanger of sorts - you never really find out whether or not Leonard actually got help like he told Herr Silverman he would, or whether or not he went on to kill himself.  Perhaps that was intentional on the part of the author, but it drive me crazy. 

Anyway, all in all, I would recommend this book.  It was a solid 4 star read for me.

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