Thank you Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via NetGalley for providing me an Advanced Readers Copy of Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock!
I found myself equally horrified, saddened, and pissed while reading this novel by Matthew Quick, author of the previously released Silver Linings Playbook. And actually, reading it so soon after I completed Speak was actually a benefit because it definitely brought forth the thought that most of the tough subject authors I've read are addressing YA issues from the female point of view. This one explores some serious issues from the male point of view and I think it is earth shatteringly important to read and experience.
The book takes place on Leonard’s 18th birthday when he has plans to off a classmate who has wronged him in some horrible way that he vaguely references throughout. Following that, he plans to off himself. Using a WWII P-38 to accomplish both deaths.
Leonard has four important people in his life to say goodbye to first though. Sadly and infuriatingly enough, none of the four are his parents. Readers will quickly find enough passion to furiously dislike Leonard’s parents. Seriously, I highlighted a passage near the end and made a note that referenced his mother as a bitch. Harsh? Yes. But I was that fed up with her antics by the end of the story.
Quick has written a very authentic teenage boy in my opinion. He hasn't sugar coated Leonard or tried to stereotype him in some modern, cool-kid way. Nor did he go overboard with the awkward, zitty, I’m just a loser, oh woe is me motif. Leonard is fighting real issues – dark issues, and his life hasn't been laid on golden paths. There’s a little Holden Caufield in here, but a much more tolerable version. I found myself loving Leonard. I quite literally wanted to wrap him up in a big ‘ol hug – even though the Leonard depicted in the story would HATE that!
As Leonard makes his way through his last day, offering up goodbye gifts to the four unsuspecting friends he has in his life, things get bad instead of better (his goodbyes aren't quite going as he'd planned). Readers will see that Leonard really is and has been looking for salvation from his feelings – his life. Even has he delivers these goodbyes, he is desperately grasping for hope while simultaneously running from any attempt someone makes.
I will note that the author uses footnotes and I never really “got that”. I felt like it was all information that could be written into the story. Additionally, I began the novel in my Aldiko Premium app and the footnotes could not easily be transferred to and from so I was infuriated – it really changed my outlook on the book and I almost gave up. However, a wonderful friend (Shout out Suzanne) suggested I have my ARC sent to my Kindle app and the footnotes worked much better there. I actually started over and then the footnotes weren't as intrusive…I still didn't love them, but they didn't keep me from a 5-star rating (originally, using Aldiko, I probably wouldn't have gotten past a 3-star rating because it hindered my reading that much).
Like with my recent review of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, I will say this. READ Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. Don’t get hung up on the fact that the author uses the F-bomb or that he’s not writing a novel that depicts life as unicorns and rainbows for teens…he’s writing from a troubled 18-yr-old’s perspective. Read it and understand that there are important issues here and in many other YA novels that we, as adults, are missing. So read the book. Recommend the book. Discuss the book. Discuss it with other adults; discuss it with teens. Then remember the things you noticed and learned while reading the book and apply them as you walk through your days. Remember that being different is okay and we should be accepting and even promoting it, but more importantly, remember that being different doesn't mean that there aren't real reasons for unexpected, sudden, and drastic changes in behavior – don’t ignore it. Don’t rationalize it. Reach out. Be someone’s Herr Silverman (read the book – you’ll love him – you’ll want to be a little like him).
I was provided an ARC copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I am not compensated for any of my reviews.
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