Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

 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.

(Description from Goodreads)

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Whenever I pick up a YA book to read and review, I like to have some variety to the stories. I don’t always want to read just fantasy or just contemporary or just sci-fi, etc. That’s why whenever I come across a book that has a deep, practically dark, plot to it, I immediately gravitate to it. This book was one of those cases. After reading the description, I just had to read it. It was different from any of the other books I had read so far, even the one that dealt with a school shooting. What stood out about this one was that it was told from the soon-to-be shooter. Let me begin with the negatives first…

The only true issues I had with this book actually pertained to the style of writing, not necessarily the plot, characters, setting, and other elements. Throughout the book, there are footnotes all over the place. There were so many footnotes that sometimes there were more footnotes on a page than there was actual story. I understand what the author was doing (it was as if the speaker just had to clarify everything he said in almost a stream of consciousness type of sense), but it was incredibly distracting. It got to the point that I simply gave up trying to read all of the footnotes, as they really didn’t provide that much information that the reader couldn’t have figured out on his or her own. The other issue I had was that the main character repeated himself a lot and kept talking about killing himself every other sentence…that may be an exaggeration, but it certainly felt like it was that frequent. After just a few pages, the reader can fully get what the main character is going to do: commit suicide after taking out his former best friend. Of course, the main character repeated this over and over and over again, just to make sure the reader wouldn’t forget. Don’t worry…we couldn’t possibly forget.

Aside from those issues I had with the book, there were many aspects and elements that I loved about it. I loved the inclusion of bullying and the effects it can have on the person who was bullied (that is most definitely not to say that I love bullying by any means). Bullying and hazing are topics that are taboo, but then to add suicide on top of that is extremely dark. Often times it seems like people try to block out bullying that may be happening around them, mostly because they don’t want to admit that it is happening to others. However, without interference, something drastic may occur. Which leads me to my next favorite part of this book: the character development. Anyone who knows my reviews knows characters are my favorite part, especially their development.  The main character, Leonard, developed quite a bit I think. Throughout the book you learn that Leonard did not have the best life growing up. There were several situations that were traumatizing to him and that contributed to how he is during the book. Reading the story, it’s understandable as to why Leonard felt the need to go so far with his intentions; anyone in his position would be angry and confused and wouldn’t truly know what to do. But as the book progresses, Leonard grows as a teenager; he’s already incredibly intelligent and mature for his age, but at the same time he practically missed out on his childhood and is still trying to work his way through that emptiness. The other characters that he made sure to say “good-bye” to, especially his German teacher Herr Silverman, helped Leonard grow as a person as well, leading up to the conclusion of the book.

The story was incredibly painful, there’s no doubt about that. People can try to ignore that bullying takes place and instead, everyone gets along with one another. However, Quick does a remarkable job at portraying someone who is BEING bullied and what types of ideas run through that person’s mind…or what may run through that person’s mind. Some people who are bullied manage to “suck it up” and move on, knowing they are the bigger person than the one doing the bullying. Other people who are bullied fall into a dark place that may not have a clear exit other than a last resort. Either way, this book tackles MANY topics that people normally do not want to discuss because of the connotation that goes along with those topics. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a powerful read and one that will make you feel several different emotions; it’s not the happiest read, and it doesn’t exactly end with a “perfect” ending, but it is an eye opener and will make you stop and think.

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