Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

If you haven't heard of Matthew Quick, you will have heard of Silver Linings Playbook, the film based on his book of the same name. His recently-published Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock has some similar elements in that it focuses on a character that is suffering from psychological trauma. The real difference, though, is how Leonard Peacock chooses to deal with it.

While the story is mostly linear, present-day Leonard is continually focussing on the past as a way to explain his behaviour. It is his 18th birthday, and he has decided to kill himself, but not until after he's given the four people who mean something to him a small goodbye gift. Then he's going to kill Asher Beal before turning the gun on himself. As he acts through his plan, he looks back on how each of those four people has come to be what he considers a friend, with his thoughts interspersed by letters he has written to himself from the future.

At the onset, it's all rather disturbing, particularly if you are aware of just how often shootings happen in America, or just how easy it can be for teens to get access to guns. Leonard never expresses the desire to kill anyone other than Asher and himself, but you never know. Yet during the whole book you get the sense that Leonard doesn't really want to go through with it. He thinks he is really giving everyone the signs to show something is not right with him; he wants someone to notice. He wants people to pay attention to him. The problem is that no one is ever there to notice, as his mother spends most of her time away from home leaving Leonard essentially living by himself.

Despite his obvious faults, Leonard is a likable character. He's funny, thoughtful and even charming at times. This may seem out of sync with the dark things going on in his head, but it does go to show how complex we are as humans, and how most people only get to see a small side of any individual. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a great example of a teenager who feels ostracized by everyone around him, and how he has attempted to rationalise extreme behaviour in reaction to feeling so alone, but can't quite let go as easily as he would like to.

No comments:

Post a Comment