Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 13th 2013
Synopsis: 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.
Forgive Me, Leonard is an emotional story that deals with some very, very tough issues (male rape, bullying, depression) with skill and will also cause your emotions to keep bubbling up inside you. This book will hit you hard, make you feel, and keep you reading with the wish that everything will turn out okay. I might have just bought this book because of the snazzy-looking cover, but I got so much more than that.
On his birthday, Leonard Peacock plans to kill his former best friend and then himself with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol. But before that, Leonard wants to says good-bye to the four people who matter to him: His neighbor who is obsessed with Humphrey Bogart, Walt; Baback, a boy who is a master at the violin; the homeschooled girl who is a devoted Christian, Lauren; and his favorite teacher, Herr Silverman. And as Leonard goes through the day, trying to say his good-byes, his secrets and reasons for wanting to kill someone are revealed.
Leonard’s story is undeniably sad. His parents aren’t around, his classmates think of him as a freak, and nobody, except for a few people, seems to even care about the sad situation he’s in. Youth is something that is supposed to be sacred and enjoyed, but all Leonard can think about is how miserable the adults he watches at the train station look and that maybe life just isn’t worth getting through if it just means that it will lead to more unhappiness.
It’s all just very sad, but these kind of stories need to be told, and Quick writes Leonard’s story clearly and with honesty. The serious issues that appear in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock are written about in a straight-forward way and were never downplayed. I really felt as if Quick did the best he could do with handling the issues that he wrote about. And boy, don’t even get me started on how emotional this book was. Even the little things that Quick inserts into his story, like the letters from the future (which were done extremely well and in an interesting way), are well-placed and only makes things more emotional.
Leonard’s character and voice was brilliantly executed. Instead of just seeing a kid hiding a gun in his backpack, you see a poor boy who has been through so much with no help, that he was pushed over the edge. Murder is a terrible crime, a crime that has permanent effects and causes a lot of pain, and writing a character who is planning on sending a bullet through someone’s head requires a lot of thought, effort, and a whole lot of skill. And I think that Quick was able to meet all three of those requirements with Leonard’s character.
The prose was… It was very honest. Emotions, dialogue, thoughts. They never felt forced nor did they feel like they were just there without a purpose. There were also lots of footnotes that showed Leonard’s thoughts and I think that those notes really succeeded in showing more of Leonard’s personality. At first, I found it a little distracting to have to look away from the paragraph I was reading and read a footnote, but I quickly got used to it. I also really loved the letters from the future. They added so much to the story, those letters.
I only have one quibble: the ending. I don’t find much appeal in open endings. I have found some novels that have open endings that I like, but that is rare, and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock had an open ending I was not a fan of. Yes, it gave me a feeling of hope, but it was way to abrupt. I wanted more out of the ending.
Quick has written a great book that has a lot of impact. It might be shorter than the average full-length novel, but it sure does have an intense, emotional, powerful, and gritty story. I could easily empathize with Leonard and I really cared for him. So, even if the ending was to abrupt for my taste, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is an amazing book.