Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 8/13/2013

Hardcover, 288 pages
ISBN-13: 9780316221337
Young Adult novel:
14 - 17 Years 

In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I'm sorry I couldn't be more than I was—that I couldn't stick around—and that what's going to happen today isn't their fault.
Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather's P-38 pistol.
But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart—obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school's class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.
In this riveting book, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.

My Thoughts:

In Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, it is Leonard Peacock's 18th birthday, although no one is acknowledging or celebrating this fact with him. Leonard is an unique young man, intelligent but a complete misfit who doesn't seem to fit in anywhere. Feeling completely disenfranchised and no longer able to cope with a destructive event he is keeping secret, he's planning to kill Asher Beal, a former friend, and then himself. Before he can do this, however, he has gifts he wants to give to four people in his life. The first thing he does is cut his long hair all off and wrap it up as a gift for his mother to find. Then he wraps the four other gifts he is planning to give, as well as his gun, and heads out.

Some of Leonard's thought processes are as scrambled and fragmented as you would expect in a suicidal young man who is suffering from depression and so full of hopelessness that he has decided upon this course of action - murder and suicide. But, his keen insight into others and their actions around him almost belie the seriousness of his intent.  All his actions are a cry for help that very few people are realizing. Quick does an amazing job following Leonard's thoughts, as doubts slip in, as his mind seeks an escape hatch if only someone would do or say... something.

At time heart wrenching, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock also highlights the emotional pain many teens who are outsiders and different feel and experience at the hands of their peers. Leonard is in some ways strong enough to stand up to a bully. He's articulate and can voice his opinions and thoughts. He's actually a brilliant young man who could have a promising future, but the hopelessness he feels threatens to overwhelm him.
There are footnotes throughout the story. Oddly, since they were at the end of the book in my review copy for the Kindle, I didn't read then until after I had read the book. They told parts of the story that I didn't know until later because I didn't read them right away. I'm not sure if reading them ahead of time would have influenced my reaction to Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.  I found this to be an incredibly novel with a huge emotional impact. 
Leonard is a well-developed character and you will understand why he is giving gifts to these specific four people in his life. Generally I'm not a reader of YA fiction, but I found Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock to be quite a compelling novel with a huge emotional impact. Certainly it would be for older teens.

Very Highly Recommended

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of
Little, Brown Books via Netgalley for review purposes.

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