Review

Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was initially a difficult book to read. Not because it’s badly written in any way – I requested it as I really enjoyed Matthew Quick’s previous novel, The Silver Linings Playbook. It’s just so full of raw emotion, with a protagonist that you simultaneously feel sorry for and dislike – at least for half of the book.

From the very beginning it is a tragic and detailed story. We’re introduced to Leonard (or rather, he introduces himself) on the morning of his eighteenth birthday. This is when he reveals his plan: to kill a fellow classmate, and then himself, using a World War II handgun. It is unusual in that it has footnotes, and lots of them, in which Leonard explains background information and rambles on about previous events and his innermost thoughts. I really liked the footnotes, as they were a very intimate look into Leonard’s life and mind. Another incredibly clever and particularly sad part of the book are Leonard’s letters from his future self. His favourite teacher, Herr Silverman, encourages Leonard to write them – and he does, even though he has no intention of reaching this future. It’s just so sad, how he has created this perfect life for himself in the future with a beautiful wife and loving daughter, in a post-apocalyptic yet peaceful world, but he’s just so sure he will never even reach that age, let alone have anything like that in his life.

Leonard decides that before he kills himself, he will leave gifts for important people in his life. Four different people, and how very different they are. His elderly neighbour, with whom Leonard shares a love for Humphrey Bogart movies, helps the reader to see a softer, more caring side. A fellow student and violin virtuoso, who really demonstrates that Leonard (ironically) appreciates the little things in life. A pastor’s daughter, who reduces Leonard to just a regular teenage boy. And finally Herr Silverman, his favourite teacher, for whom Leonard shows great respect.

I mentioned that it was difficult reading for the first half. Before you find out exactly just why Leonard is on this path, he seems incredibly judgemental and condescending, constantly looking down on his peers, and just not a likeable character in the slightest. Then the pieces come together and you find out why he is struggling so much – abandoned by his drunkard of a father and unsure if he’s even still alive, neglected by his fashion designer mother who spends most of her time in another state, and one massive reason that suddenly hits you like a ton of bricks when you read it, leaves you reeling and completely changes your perception of Leonard.

The irony is that, for someone who is so intent on killing themselves, Leonard sure thinks about life a lot. He has quite a philosophical view, more so than his classmates, and he is incredibly intelligent. His narrative voice definitely reminded me of Pat in The Silver Linings Playbook – it’s funny how these characters who are seen as ‘unstable’ often have a better grip on life than those who are ‘normal’. In conclusion, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a haunting and tragic story, that completely flips your view of the protagonist halfway through – leaving the reader feeling incredibly judgemental themselves.

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Misc.

A Year in Books 2012

This is my own wrap-up post of the past year, pointing out particular favourites, new authors and series, etc. To see all the books I have read this year, click here, or look at the graphic below (good ol’ Goodreads!)

 

I started off the year with reading all but the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, as I had read A Game of Thrones at the end of 2011. Definitely one of my new favourite series and authors! I don’t think I really need to explain what they’re about as I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of the series by now.
 
 
I started the Millennium series, by Stieg Larsson. My parents are fans, and were going to see the English language version of the film in the cinema, and I decided to go with them. I hadn’t read the books, so on the day we were going to watch it I started reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and got about halfway through the book before seeing the film. But Blomkvist and Salander hadn’t even met by that point! I still haven’t read the third book of the series – I started it, but honestly found it rather dull, and from watching the film I know not much happens.
 
 
I won my first Goodreads giveaway – Antauge by Sarah Parker Morris, which I ended up giving a three star rating. You can read my review here. I won many other books after, some of which I still need to review!

 
Mass Effect 3 was released, and I played and finished it – and started reading the books because I just can’t get enough of it. Unfortunately, the books are pretty bad… but that doesn’t stop me from reading them. I have reviewed Mass Effect: Ascension by Drew Karpyshyn and Mass Effect: Homeworlds by Mac Walters; and read but not reviewed Mass Effect: Deception by William C. Dietz and Mass Effect: Evolution by Mac Walters.
 
I also decided to read some more classic sci-fi, so read books such as I Am Legend by Robert Matheson and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. I made sure to read it before I watched Blade Runner – which is one of my dad’s favourite films, and he’d been telling me to watch it for ages. I have to say, I definitely preferred the book! I also read some newer sci-fi, such as House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (amazing) and Gradisil by Adam Roberts (had so much potential).

  

I read The Hunger Games series, all three books before seeing the film. I absolutely loved them, and this led to me reading more YA books that weren’t quite so good… 

But I also discovered some new favourite series – the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons, The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett, the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. I discovered some really enjoyable, underrated books such as The Silver Linings Playbook (which I’m sure is now more popular due to the film). I re-read some older favourites – Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses trilogy, The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, some Bill Bryson.


I finally got round to reading (and really enjoying!) some of the more popular books that I’d been meaning to read – The Passage by Justin Cronin, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.


But I also read a couple of books that I really didn’t enjoy. Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Admitting to not enjoying either of those almost makes me feel blasphemous… but I just didn’t get along with them at all. I think The Scarlet Letter is the only book I’ve ever wanted to throw across the room. I really looked forward to reading Let The Right One In but spent the majority of it feeling rather queasy… I also read the infamously Goodreads-wide hated Save the Pearls: Revealing Eden, which made me feel rather sick for a completely different reason.


I founded this blog at the end of August, which is when I started reading ebooks – I’m still not sure what I think of them. I can see their uses, definitely, but I much, much prefer the feel of a real book in my hands. Since I started this blog, I have made 95 posts (not including this one), 29 of which are book reviews. I’ve gained 220 followers on Google Friend Connect, and over 500 on Twitter, as well as discovered some fantastic fellow book bloggers!


I’m actually finding it really hard to write this post, because there are so many books and aspects of blogging that  I want to write about, but I don’t want to turn this into an essay, and it would also take forever! Overall, I would say that I think it’s been a great year, reading wise. I read a wide range of genres, found some amazing new books/series/authors, and also found ones I know to steer clear of.


I think I’ll also just take the time to send a small shout out to some of my favourite book bloggers – Kelly, Kat, Ara, Aloi and Deneé – I visit your blogs regularly, and try to comment frequently. But there are so many others I love to visit, I would list my whole blogroll on here if I could…