Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Publication date: 16 January 2014
Length: 273 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Age group: Young Adult
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
In a nutshell
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 for himself. But to his four friends.
A Humprey 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, and bid them farewell.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock has been recommended to me by an increasing number of people in the past few months and after hearing so many great things about it, my expectations were very high. Since it left such a lasting impression on the book blogger community and all those people whose taste I absolutely trust, and since I generally like books dealing with suicide or mental illness, I decided to give it a go. Now, after reading the book, I can’t thank all these people enough for their constant nagging – because it was simply amazing.
I loved this book for so many different reasons, I don’t even know where to begin. Perhaps the best place to start is the narration and our main character, Leonard. On the surface, Leonard is your average eighteen-year-old secondary school student with an average life. Okay, maybe the fact that his mother abandoned him and, as it turns out later on, doesn’t have the faintest idea about what he’s going through and how tough his childhood has been isn’t so average. On the contrary. But other than that, he seems like any other guy his age. Until he starts talking. Through Leonard’s story we learn that, in fact, he couldn’t be any more different from everyone else. I loved his unique voice and his way of storytelling. And while he’s just a young guy trying to get through his school years, his attitude and his way of thinking, his thoughts about adulthood couldn’t be more mature. His anger and his thoughts about not wanting to grow up – because adults just don’t seem to remember how to be happy – reminded me of Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye (one of my favourite classics of all time) and I loved Leonard just as much as I loved him.
Apart from Leonard’s voice and how special he truly is, another thing I loved about this book is the message the author tries to convey. The novel as a whole might be quite dark and grim (and yes, it made me blink back a few tears here and there), but his message about life and happiness is so optimistic and so cleverly, subtly woven into the story through Leonard’s letters from his older self. Speaking of the letters: it really confused me at first and I didn’t really know what to make of it – I thought it would be something cheesy but once I realised who’s writing these letters, I thought it was beautiful. I found them very optimistic, in a way. They remind you that whatever hardships you’re going through at the moment will pass. Even if you feel like things can’t get any worse and you want to curl into a ball and give up, you have to hang in there because you never know what your future holds. Life is not easy for anyone – harder for some than others – but it does have its beautiful side if you’re patient enough to wait for it and fight whatever stands in the way of your happiness. They also show that happiness isn’t and can’t be measured by wealth. You can life in a well-off household in an economically advanced country and still feel miserable, just like you can live a simple life in a small, simple place and still be happy.
I also loved the picture the book paints of society and adulthood. As I said, it’s quite dark and I think quite similar to The Catcher in the Rye in the sense that both main characters loathe adulthood and the fact that adults just go with the flow without enjoying life, working their butts off and forgetting how to enjoy the little things in life.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is pure genius in every possible way and everyone should read it. Now.
*Many thanks to Headline for sending me a copy for review*