Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
by Matthew Quick
Published: 13th August 2013
Leonard Peacock is turning 18.
And he wants to say goodbye.
Not to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing something tragic and horrific.
Nor to his mum who’s moved out and left him to fend form himself. But to his four friends.
A Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour
A teenage violin virtuoso
A pastor’s daughter
Most of the time, Leonard believes he’s weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he’s not.
He wants to thank them, and bid them farewell.
I picked this book up after I finished (and loved) The Silver Lining’s Playbook, I was extremely interested in seeing what else this author could produce. I chose this one to read next from his collection of work, firstly because the blurb fascinated me, and secondly because there was praise from Jay Asher, who wrote one of my favourite books, Thirteen Reasons Why.
I began this book, and I can honestly say I didn’t like it at first. The reason I didn’t fall in love immediately was because I didn’t take a shine to the protagonist, Leonard, instantly. What struck me initially was the characters voice. Leonard has a very dark, dry sense of humour that really made me feel uncomfortable. I mean the first sentence of the novel blew me away! Once I got over that, and realised why the character was that way, I felt the voice was very powerful and effective. I grew to appreciate his cynicism and started to relate to him in some ways.
The structure of the book is something that I found quite interesting. The author has uses footnotes throughout the novel. At first I really enjoyed this, it was something I’d never come across before, and then I found them really annoying because I found them to be quite jarring because I had to keep jumping around the page. I got used to them by the end, and it was an interesting feature. I also enjoyed how the author plays with the words on the page. I loved the visual representation of the character’s feelings. I saw each word spread over a few different lines, and I could read the word individually in its own right – very effective writing indeed.
In terms of plot, this is a very difficult narrative to read. From the blurb you can see that Leonard is battling quite a lot of demons, and has decided he wants to end his life. This is never an easy topic to read, but the author has presented it in an astonishing way by writing it from Leonard’s perspective. I never thought I would enjoy reading from the perspective of someone that wanted to commit murder-suicide, because it’s very blunt and at times truly difficult to read. Writing this novel from this perspective works incredibly well because you feel everything the character is feeling, and you have a deeper understanding of why he has chosen to take this path.
I loved the relationships involved in this novel, obviously including the four described in the blurb but also with Leonard’s mother. The novel is a huge comment on the effects of relationships, and how we treat people. I enjoyed the relationship between Leonard and Herr Silverman the most but I actually felt the strongest about the interactions between Leonard and his mother, Linda. I don’t want to go into too much detail here because I think this is something you need to experience first-hand, but let me say this, it will leave you speechless.
I truly could go on and on about this novel, it really is a breath taking read. I loved The Silver Lining’s Playbook, and I love Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock even more. I would really recommend this novel to everyone, and I think it’s a read that will stay with me for a long time. After I turned the last page I was sat in awe for several moments, and I think I’ve fallen into a book hangover because how can I move on from that?
Get it, read it, enjoy it. You won’t regret it.
If you’d like to grab yourself a copy: Amazon link