Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Once I started, I couldn't stop until it was finished and thrumming in my hands. Actually, I lied, since I listened to the audio, but I imagine myself holding the book and my hands are shaking because I'm thinking of the world covered in water, even Philadelphia, and I'm wrecked, because of the letters Leonard's future family write to him as he contemplates murder and suicide on his eighteenth birthday.
Leonard is a thinker. He's not a sheep or a follower. He's not like the "mindless morons" that fill his high school and classrooms with so many others who just go through the motions and don't challenge the system. Or, if they do, live a duality that hides their true nature. As the story progresses, it's unclear which side Leonard is on.
I am a reader who works in mental health, and Leonard Peacock clearly represents someone seriously contemplating murdering his ex-best friend, and then committing his own suicide. As he meets with his four friends, the four people who know him best, can they pick up on the clues he leaves them and stop him from completing his mission before it's too late?
I am amazed at the humanity of Leonard Peacock, a character who doesn't want to be a follower, but can't quite accept his own different-ness. He's wise beyond his years, because he has been cheated of his own childhood, and he lives in what might as well be a parentless world with very few friends. His mother is a fashion designer in New York, his father may or may not be alive, but has not been seen in years, and Leonard has less than a handful of friends to keep him going.
That world became harsher still, once his very best friend Asher became his enemy. As the novel unfolds, Leonard has cut off his long hair, wrapped up gifts and a gun and is on a mission. First, he will deliver the gifts to the few important people in his life, and then he will go through with his plan to kill Asher, and then off himself. The reasons why are slowly unraveled while Leonard visits each of his four friends, and cuts school to ride the train of life and see what it's like to be an adult.
This book transcends the many quotes and pathways it takes the reader on, a passenger on the train of life, doing "research" to figure out the meaning of so many things. Leonard Peacock is such a vivid character, it's easy to get pulled in and then you're hooked and you have to know how it all turns out. Will he do it, or won't he, and that ending. Boy did it wreck me. It sucker punched me in the feels.
A powerful, soul-changing book. A must read.
THANK YOU TO SYNC YA LITERATURE for providing the audiobook as a part of the 2014 Summer Reading Preview. I plan to return next year to see what titles are offered. I hope you will join me.
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