Book Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (3/5). A Study in Adolescent Psychology.

8 Sep

I downloaded this audiobook free on a promotion and thought that I’d keep it around for a rainy day when there was no other audio around. So while waiting for a few holds to come in, I went for it.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

It’s Leonard’s birthday and he’s decided that it should be his last birthday. He has his grandfather’s WWII rifle and he’s planning to kill his arch-nemesis Asher and then shoot himself. But first, he’s going to give out presents to those that have made his life bearable. There’s his neighbor, Walt, who watches Bogart films with him, Baback, a kid from his school who lets Leonard sit in on his violin practices and enjoy the music, Herr Silverman, his Holocaust teacher, and Lauren, the evangelical Christian handing out pamphlets on the subway. As he says goodbye to each of them, he tells the reader how the person impacted his life and why he’s thankful. And slowly, we understand why Asher Beale must die.

This book kind of disturbed me. I’m not sure if that’s the way I was supposed to feel, but it was almost uncomfortable to listen to it. It was so obvious to me that Leonard had something a bit off in his head. He didn’t seem to look at the world in a way I’m familiar with or that I feel those around me look at it and I felt like an intruder in his head. That was a big part of why I didn’t fall in love with this title.

I’ve never really known someone like Leonard so it was hard to relate to him. I’m sure there are those out there who feel like him and would be capable of resorting to the things Leonard did to feel at peace with the world; I just don’t know these people. My initial reaction is that Leonard bears some resemblance to the Columbine High School shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, but after reading about them, I’m not sure. Klebold, Harris, and Leonard all seemed motivated by hatred, but Leonard’s was directed at a single person, not everyone who annoyed him. I do wonder if school shootings were part of Quick’s inspiration to write this book.

Matthew Quick Image via Forbes.com

Matthew Quick
Image via Forbes.com

Herr Silverman was my favorite character. I’m always glad when there’s a positive adult character in a YA book and I think Herr Silverman was the perfect example of this in Leonard’s story. You could tell that there was something he was hiding and keeping back that was a lot bigger than something on his arm and I liked what it was. At first, I thought it was going to be scars from a suicide attempt, but I like that it was more than that. I like that Quick didn’t go with a stereotype. He gave Leonard so much of his time and effort and as the wife of a teacher, I know a lot of teachers feel like that already do that every day and they might not go even more above and beyond like Herr Silverman did for Leonard. There’s a teacher/student line and sometimes it needs to be crossed and I’m glad Herr Silverman realized this.

I couldn’t particularly relate to any of the characters in this story. I’ve already said I didn’t feel much attachment to Leonard and the people he surrounded himself with were pretty foreign to me, too. Herr Silverman being a teacher is probably the closest affinity I have toward any of the characters.

This may sound twisted, but my favorite part of the book was at the end when Linda came home and she and Leonard interacted face to face. It made Leonard’s emotional state seem more real to me once I saw him with this oblivious woman. I could finally sympathize with him and saw what was so wrong her and her relationship with her son.

Image via Wikipedia.com

Lauren Bacall
Image via Wikipedia.com

Leonard’s interactions with Lauren were the hardest for me to read. I couldn’t tell (as she couldn’t either) if he was egging her on or was truthfully interested in what she had to say. Being an evangelist can be hard and I think Lauren was very brave to do what she did ever day and I don’t think Leonard’s words and actions made it any easier on her or her mission. But I don’t think he realized how much harm and damage he was doing to her and that’s what upset me the most. I did find it interesting how much he compared her to Lauren Bacall. I’d never heard of Bacall before (not much of a fan of old movies) but found it interesting that she passed so soon after I read this book. I hope I’m not cursing anyone.

The biggest theme I got from reading this book was bullying, though not as direct as in Thirteen Reasons Why. Leonard was bullied and forced in his relationship with Asher and his mother was a silent observer who should have known something was wrong with her son, but chose to do nothing. When the abuse turned to taunting at school, the bullying began and Asher was able to get others to treat Leonard the same way he does. Like Thirteen Reasons Why, the author’s message is that we never know how hurtful and impactful our words can be on a person’s life. Maybe Asher had no idea how Leonard felt or maybe he knew perfectly well and was just a jerk. Either way, what he said and did had massive ramifications.

Writer’s Takeaway: I guess I would use this book to consider voice as something that can be too strong. Leonard’s voice made me uncomfortable as a reader. I didn’t like being inside his head and it changed my opinion on the book. I’ve read books with a strong voice before (Emma Donoghue’s Room comes to mind) but never one that turned me off like this one did. I would use this as a cautionary tale.

Overall a good message, a good story, and strong characters, but not ones I felt comfortable with. Three out of Five stars.

This book fulfilled New Jersey for my Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
67. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock- Matthew Quick | thebookheap
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick | thebookiemonsters
Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick | Escapades of a Book Work
Book Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick | Jenny in Neverland
Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick | Ashleigh Online

Advertisements

3 Responses to “Book Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (3/5). A Study in Adolescent Psychology.”

  1. 3011mileswestofvt September 8, 2014 at 4:02 PM #

    Thanks for your honest review of this book. You captured feelings I was unable to articulate beyond a level of discomfort that prevented me from passing the book on in the way I usually do in my role as a Literacy Coach.

    Like

    • Sam September 8, 2014 at 5:25 PM #

      I’m half I could help you articulate your feelings. It took a lot of thought to explain why this book was so uncomfortable to read.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: