I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on August 13th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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.
Recently, I’ve been reading really depressing books that have both horrified and fascinated me. But out of all of them, Charm and Strange and now Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock takes the cake for tackling tough, taboo issues. In this case, suicide. Now, the last suicide book I’ve read was Thirteen Reasons Why and this book can easily be compared to that. But instead of the story being told from tapes from the deceased and another MC, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is told play-by-play from Leonard himself. His voice is real, broken, hurt, confused and relatable. He wants to be seen, remembered. He wants people to acknowledge his existence. So on his 18th birthday he takes his grandfather’s war gun trophy and sets out to kill his former best friend and himself.
When we are introduced to Leonard, he immediately fills the reader in on his plans, though the ultimate reason why is revealed along the course of his day as he gives away personal items or gifts to four people he regularly interacts with. While Leonard calls them friends, we find that this doesn’t accurately describe those relationships. Two mostly tolerate or accept his presence in their routine, but unlike most of his peers, they communicate with him in some way despite being weirded out by his differences. Leonard is vastly different from his classmates and that is quickly apparent in his reasonings and speech. He sees the world and challenges things normal teenagers wouldn’t think about. This doesn’t do Leonard any favors regarding his popularity, but he brushes this off as ignorance on their part.
The thing about Leonard is that he’s such a smart character, but he never comes across as pretentious like some characters from other equally morbid novels. (This is me giving The Fault in Our Stars the stink eye.) It’s easy to see why he’s misunderstood and underestimated, but such a shame to read about such a lonely kid. His situation depressed me on a serious level and I just wanted to give this guy hug. He doesn’t have friends his age or even the support of his family. His mother spends her days in New York, living her dream working as a designer and his father is nowhere to be seen, leaving Leonard to mostly fend for himself. Thankfully, Leonard is not entirely alone and when the climax hits, he does begin to see there are people who care about him.
If there is one piece of criticism I do have it was the way the Letters From the Future were introduce. In certain chapters of the book, the narrative and setting switches and their isn’t any notice. I’ll admit to be completely caught off guard to this and confused as to how it held any relevance to the story until after his teacher mentioned them in class. Leonard also has moments when he references footnotes in his narration, which is generally not a style that I love since it causes me to flip back and forth from the footnotes to the story. Word to the wise, reading this one on your kindle might be a royal pain in the ass.
All in all, I’m really glad I decided to check Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock out. It’s a very different story, the kind I’m not used to reading. But just like Thirteen Reasons Why and Charm and Strange, it’s one I’ll probably be thinking about for a while. Highly recommended.
ARC was provided by the publisher for an honest review. Thank you!
Have you read this one yet? Are you equally as fascinated and disturbed at these types of novels as I am?