Review of “Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock” by Matthew Quick

This book begins on the morning of Leonard Peacock’s 18th birthday, which even his own mother doesn’t remember. In fact, his mother doesn’t even live with him most of the time, since he is attending high school in South Jersey and she is off in New York City working on her fashion design career.

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Leonard is planning a murder/suicide. In letters he writes to himself from the future (at the urging of his only caring teacher), we learn how he is feeling:

I know that you really just want everything to end – that you can’t see anything good in your future, that the world looks dark and terrible, and maybe you’re right – the world can definitely be a dreadful place.”

He tells us that once he went to the park and watched the pigeons and “I felt so so lonely that I hoped someone would come along and stick a knife into my ribs just so they could have my empty wallet.”

Yes, if you are thinking this is a depressing book, you would be correct!

Leonard reveals his feelings and plans in first person narrative interspersed with the aforementioned letters and also a series of footnotes he adds, in a reflection of both his sense of humor and his love of learning and truth, in spite of his cruddy life. At one point, after saying “I’m beginning to see why people go mad and do awful things – like the Nazis and Hitler and Ted Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and Cho Seung-Hui…” he adds this important footnote:

You should read about all those killers. They all have a lot in common. I bet they felt lonely in many ways, helpless, FORGOTTEN, ignored, alienated, irrelevant, cynical, and sad. Read about them. You really should. You can learn a lot. More than I can explain here.”

Leonard, however, perhaps unlike those others, doesn’t really want to use his gun; he wants to be saved. But he doesn’t want to have to beg for it. He just wants people to listen to him, to notice him, and to be kind. Fortunately, he experiences little bits of that, but is it enough, and is it too late?

Evaluation: This is a good story and an important one, especially if you have teens in your life. Matthew Quick is so adept at tackling difficult subjects, like mental health, anger, hurt, and psychological damage. But he also adds enough humor and an obvious love for his characters to allow you to undertake difficult narrative journeys you might otherwise be apt to avoid.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc., 2013

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14 Responses

  1. I listened to this one last year and thought it was good. Looking forward to his new book as well.

  2. I have yet to read any of his books. He certainly has his fans, I figure there must be something to it! I’m not totally sure if this should be the place to start (it might hit a little close to home, I’m not sure).

  3. You’ll probably think I’m shallow but I’ve wanted to read something (anything) by Quick ever since I saw Silver Linings Playbook. I have a different title, though.

  4. I have heard of Silver Linings Playbook, but this is the first I have paid attention to his other books. I should read something by him.

  5. I thought this one was really good too. I liked how the author showed Leonard’s desire to be heard without him having to ask or beg for it.

  6. I can get depressed without any help so I’ll pass.

  7. lol I forgot about the footnotes and how irritating they were in the ebook. I loooooved this book. But you’re right he does seem to have fairly depressing subjects.

  8. This is the best review I read on this book. I have a copy through NetGalley and was wondering if I should read it.

  9. I had a hard time with this book- it was well written, but so sad and depressing.

  10. I have Silver Linings Playbook on my list but I should add this one too. It sounds sad but like you said, important.

  11. One of many things book bloggers are good at is keeping interesting authors at the forefront of my consciousness. I can’t read Matthew Quick now — have to, have to, have to read books by some non-white non-American authors, argh — but it’s good to keep being reminded that I want to later.

  12. I don’t know if I could read this one — sounds too sad/scary/depressing! (But sometimes that’s good!)

  13. An author I’ve seen around but this one does sound too depressing.

  14. This book really made me think about my own actions and decisions. Will I be a happy adult in the future, or just one amongst many dissatisfied souls?
    Definitely a must-read for everyone! :)
    Here’s my review:

    http://geekie-chic.blogspot.in/2014/01/forgive-me-leonard-peacock-by-matthew.html

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