Book Title/Author: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Publisher/Year: August 13th 2013 – Little Brown Books For Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary YA – Realistic Teen Fiction
Other Books From Author: Silver Linings Playbook, Sorta Like A Rock Star, Boy21
I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!
Leonard Peacock wakes up on his 18th birthday with a plan to kill his former best friend and then take his own life. Before he does that he spends the day giving gifts to the four important people in his life — his elderly neighbor, his teacher, a girl he met handing out religious tracts and a boy from his school. He slowly reveals his story and what has happened to get him to this day as he counts down the hours until he will pull the trigger.
This was definitely an interesting, powerful novel! Pretty heavy as we are following a narrator who has revealed right from the start that his plan for the day is to kill his former best friend and then himself. That alone definitely got my attention — like WAIT WHAT? PUT DOWN THE GUN, KID. We don’t know the reason why he is going to kill this boy but everything is slowly revealed throughout the day as we follow him say goodbye and deliver gifts to four people who have seemed to really make an impact on him. As the story unraveled and the motive was revealed, my heart broke for all the Leonard Peacocks of the world.
Have you ever had an experience following a character that is just so unsettling for most of it that you have to take breaks? This was my experience with Leonard Peacock. It’s just a strange experience to be following a main character who wants to kill someone and then kill himself. On top of that, you can just feel the pain of Leonard Peacock just emanating from the pages. He’s so lonely and pushed off to the side that it just hurt my heart. But at the same time you just feel some inner rage that he thinks this is the answer. But then you feel so badly for him again. I was just so scared the whole time — like wanting to plead with him NOT to do it. I was pretty unsure about what was going to happen until I got to a certain point.
What made this book so powerful and raw was Leonard. I felt this cloud of sadness just settle around me for a good chunk of this novel. His story is so, so devastatingly sad and I wanted to just hug him hard and buy him a cake for his birthday. His voice was incredibly memorable with the way it made me feel a weight in my heart like really sad songs or the way his pain was just so visible like a painting on a canvas.
It’s definitely a bit of a slower novel as it takes place in one day and most of the day he is meeting with these four characters who have impacted his life in some way and revealing a lot about his life and why these people have been deemed important to him. Despite the fact it’s a bit of a slower novel, it’s so emotionally charged because you can feel his state of mind and you are kind of reading in a sort of flinched manner with your hands over your eyes but peeking through to read it. You are just waiting to see if he is going to pull the trigger all while reading Leonard’s really painful story. SO INTENSE.
My one and only complaint that I remember thinking that, at times, some of the other characters seemed a little bit like caricatures. I did really love his elderly neighbor and the teacher though! ALSO, I don’t know what the finished copies or ebooks will be like, but I read an e-galley and there are footnotes in this novel that I didn’t see until the END. I did read them after and I felt like they would have distracted me with their length but some were actually important. I think maybe something I didn’t see coming was said in one of those footnotes so MAYBE his motive won’t seem as shocking because it seemed to hint to it.
Also, hip hip hooray for a novel set in my area again — Philly!
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was definitely an unsettling, raw kind of book that made me think twice. Leonard Peacock is a voice that you won’t soon forget as the voices of thousands of Leonard Peacocks resound all around us. The unraveling of the pain that Leonard held so tight, a deep pain that would motivate him to want to kill someone and then end his own life, made my heart so, so heavy. I closed the pages ultimately with hope and it made me think a lot about our interactions with people that we may think are meaningless.
Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? If you’ve read it what did you think? Who was your favorite of the four characters he gave gifts to? Did you find it hard to read? Anyone else think it would be a great book club pick?