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.
I can see many people will enjoy Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and I admit, it definitely has a lot going for it. It’s a modern story, highlighting two issues that have manage to persist through time. I will only mention one of the issues here, because I want other readers to find out about the other one as they read through the story. If you have read the description on the back of the book, you can probably guessed the issue Leonard Peacock is facing – bullying. He’s been bullied to a point that committing a murder-suicide appears to be the best option. Now, I didn’t give this book 5-stars because I thought it was a sad story and it moved me. Sometimes, I feel like sad books get automatic good ratings purely because they made the readers cry. Those 5-stars got there because the story was painfully realistic – no matter how much you want to deny it and live in your happy little bubble, this book brings you back down to Earth. And that hurts. Reality sucks but Matthew Quick was able to put to words feelings most of us can’t express. And you better believe that deserves 5-stars.
So maybe some of you might think the plot is too cookie-cutter, because if you had previously read any bullying story, it probably went down the same way Leonard’s story did. But that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Although his story may sound Plain-Jane, his character wasn’t. I was able to feel Leonard’s frustrations, confusion and hopelessness. The stylistic choices, like the footnotes and indents, solidified Leonard’s character. His brain worked at such a fast pace that it often went on tangents (footnotes) and as a reader reading the book, it added to the chaotic feeling. At points, Leonard’s internal struggles packed such a punch that I felt I needed to put down this book and reflect on what I had just read. (This explains why it took me nine days to read a 288 page book, and I’m not trying to come up with an excuse for my reading speed). That’s when you know you’ve got a powerful book in your hands.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is my very first Matthew Quick book, and it definitely won’t be my last.
P.S.: Everyone deserves their own Herr Silverman in life.