Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Year Published: 2013

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 273
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2013 Google Reading map): USA (PA)


FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the back of the book): 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 will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather's P-38 pistol. Maybe one day he'll believe that being different is okay, important even. But not today.

Review: Woah. I've just read this entire book in a half day of concentrated reading and it is very good. It is though provoking, intense, gripping, and so well done.

Really, Leonard Peacock is all of us. He is confused, interested, alone, has good moments, enjoys parts of his day, has someone he cares about (his mom) who lets him down again and again. And it's his birthday. The day that is supposed to be all about us, but somehow never really is. He wants people to acknowledge him, but hasn't told anyone it's his birthday.

Leonard reveals very quickly in this book his plan for his birthday: give 4 people a present each then kill his former best friend then kill himself. He thinks about these actions all day and the reader learns more and more about Leonard as a person as the day progresses. We also learn what life is like for Leonard (the good and the bad). We learn of the really bad as well. The stuff that is so bad Leonard feels he must kill to make it go away. It is so painful.

As an educator, it was tough to read this book and see the adults in Leonard's school realize something was wrong, but not quite be able to fix it or get to the bottom of it. We had one of our students commit suicide about five years ago and each staff member questioned what they could have done to stop him. Like Leonard, he gave away possessions. Like Leonard, he was having a tough time. And, like Leonard, he made everyone think things were okay.

This novel is moving, important, well written, thoughtful, and so worth reading.

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