Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Publisher: Hachettte Book Group
Imprint: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Fiction
Length: 278 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

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.

The Review:

Matthew Quick’s Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a heartbreaking and compelling character study of a teenager who is on the verge of committing two unthinkable acts: killing a classmate then himself. This insightful novel is a must read for both teenagers and their parents.

Leonard Peacock is a very intelligent young man but he does not fit in with his fellow students. His mother has checked out of his life literally and figuratively so Leonard pretty much does as he pleases. His closest (and sadly, only) friend is his octogenarian next door neighbor Walt. They pass their time together watching old Bogart films and exchanging movie quotes. The only other positive role model in Leonard’s life is his favorite teacher, Herr Silverman.

All of Leonard’s unhappiness and confusion culminate on his eighteenth birthday. With his birthday forgotten by his incredibly self-absorbed and absentee mother, Leonard methodically goes about saying a final goodbye to the important people in his life. Walt and Herr Silverman are alarmed by his behavior and while they ask probing and pointed questions about his state of mind, Leonard insists he is fine.

Mr. Quick’s characterization of Leonard is amazingly accurate. I have an eighteen year old son and I went straight to the source after reading some of Leonard’s astute observations. Much to my amazement, he agreed completely with Leonard’s viewpoint. I must confess I am a little saddened by both my son’s and Leonard’s cynical outlook about society and adulthood.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is written in first person from Leonard’s point of view. The story is well-written and unique but a couple of things take some getting used to. The use of footnotes during the narrative was a little annoying in the beginning but I soon appreciated the insight I gleaned from them. The letters from the future came out of left field and while there is a reason for them, it would have been useful to have the explanation earlier in their story.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a compelling and meaningful novel that I highly recommend. Matthew Quick handles some very difficult topics with sensitivity and he ultimately delivers a powerful message that will resonate with readers of all ages.

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2 Comments

Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Forgive Me Leonard Peacock, Hachette Book Group, Little Brown for Young Readers, Matthew Quick, Rated B, Review, Young Adult

2 Responses to Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

  1. Carolyn

    You’ve got me intrigued by this review, Kathy. I appreciate not only knowing your thoughts but your son’s as well. I’ve been reading a fair amount of YA and fiction that might be termed a bit quirky, so it sounds like this is one I should make time for, too.