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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.
"Full disclosure: you might need tissues to make it through Leonard Peacock, but even if you don't, you'll likely be touched by Leonard's story."—Entertainment Weekly
"At a time when bullying and gun violence is at the top of the national conversation, this novel servies as a literary segue for teens, parents and teachers into an open dialogue on sensitive topics."—USA Today
"If only Hollywood could get novelist Matthew Quick to write faster. Everything the Massachusetts-based writer pens seems to be scooped up by the studios as soon as the books are bound."—The Los Angeles Times
* "Quick's use of flashbacks, internal dialogue, and interpersonal communication is brilliant, and the suspense about what happened between Leonard and Asher builds tangibly. The masterful writing takes readers inside Leonard's tormented mind, enabling a compassionate response to him and to others dealing with trauma."—School Library Journal, starred review
* "Quick's attentiveness to these few key relationships and encounters gives the story its strength and razorlike focus...Through Leonard, Quick urges readers to look beyond the pain of the here and now to the possibilities that await."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
" Over the course of one intense day (with flashbacks), Leonard's existential crisis is delineated through an engaging first-person narrative supplemented with footnotes and letters from the future that urge Leonard to believe in a "life beyond the übermorons" at school. Complicated characters and ideas remain complicated, with no facile resolutions, in this memorable story."—The Horn Book
"...the novel presents a host of compelling, well-drawn, realistic characters-all of whom want Leonard to make it through the day safe and sound."—Kirkus
"This is one of the most important books of our time."—A.S. King, Printz Honor author of Everybody Sees the Ants and Ask the Passengers
"Leonard's life teeters dangerously between moments of pain and beauty. A fast read, because I needed to keep reading. I will not forget Leonard Peacock. I love this book."
—Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why and The Future of Us
The P-38 WWII Nazi handgun looks comical lying on the breakfast table next to a bowl of oatmeal. It's like some weird steampunk utensil anachronism. But if you look very closely just above the handle you can see the tiny stamped swastika and the eagle perched on top, which is real as hell.
I take a photo of my place setting with my iPhone, thinking it could be both evidence and modern art.
Then I laugh my ass off looking at it on the miniscreen, because modern art is such bullshit.
I mean, a bowl of oatmeal and a P-38 set next to it like a spoon—that arrangement photographed can be modern art, right?
But funny too.
I've seen worse on display at real art museums, like an all-white canvas with a single red pinstripe through it.
I once told Herr Silverman about that red-line painting, saying I could easily do it myself, and he said in this superconfident voice, "But you didn't."
I have to admit it was a cool, artsy retort because it was true.
Shut me the hell up.
So here I am making modern art before I die.
Maybe they'll hang my iPhone in the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the oatmeal Nazi gun pic displayed.
They can call it Breakfast of a Teenage Killer or something ridiculous and shocking like that.
The art and news worlds will love it, I bet.
They'll make my modern artwork instantly famous.
Especially after I actually kill Asher Beal and off myself.
Art value always goes up once the artist's associated with fucked-up things such as cutting off his own ear like Van Gogh, or marrying his teenage cousin like Poe, or having his minions murder a celebrity like Manson, or shooting his postsuicide ashes out of a huge cannon like Hunter S. Thompson, or being dressed up as a little girl by his mother like Hemingway, or wearing a dress made of raw meat like Lady Gaga, or having unspeakable things done to him so he kills a classmate and puts a bullet in his own head like I will do later today.
My murder-suicide will make Breakfast of a Teenage Killer a priceless masterpiece because people want artists to be unlike them in every way. If you are boring, nice, and normal—like I used to be—you will definitely fail your high school art class and be a subpar artist for life.
Worthless to the masses.
Everyone knows that.
So the key is doing something that sets you apart forever in the minds of regular people.
Something that matters.
I wrap up the birthday presents in this pink wrapping paper I find in the hall closet.
I wasn't planning on wrapping the presents, but I feel like maybe I should attempt to make the day feel more official, more festive.
I'm not afraid of people thinking I'm gay, because I really don't care what anyone thinks at this point, and so I don't mind the pink paper, although I would have preferred a different color. Maybe black would have been more appropriate given what's about to transpire.
It makes me feel really little-kid-on-Christmas-morning good to wrap up the gifts.
Feels right somehow.
I make sure the safety is on and then put the loaded P-38 in an old cedar cigar box I kept to remember my dad, because he used to enjoy smoking illegal Cuban cigars. I stuff a bunch of old socks in to keep my "heater" from clanking around inside and maybe blasting a bullet into my ass. Then I wrap the box in pink paper too, so that no one will suspect I have a gun in school.
Even if—for whatever reason—my principal starts randomly searching backpacks today, I can say it's a present for a friend.
The pink wrapping paper will throw them off, camouflage the danger, and only a real asshole would make me open up someone else's perfectly wrapped gift.
No one has ever searched my backpack at school, but I don't want to take any chances.
Maybe the P-38 will be a present for me when I unwrap it and shoot Asher Beal.
That'll probably be the only present I receive today.
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.
I don't want them to stress over what I'm about to do or feel depressed afterward.
My Holocaust class teacher, Herr Silverman, never rolls up his sleeves like the other male teachers at my high school, who all arrive each morning with their freshly ironed shirts rolled to the elbow. Nor does Herr Silverman ever wear the faculty polo shirt on Fridays. Even in the warmer months he keeps his arms covered, and I've been wondering why for a long time now.
I think about it constantly.
It's maybe the greatest mystery of my life.
Perhaps he has really hairy arms, I've often thought. Or prison tattoos. Or a birthmark. Or he was obscenely burned in a fire. Or maybe someone spilled acid on him during a high school science experiment. Or he was once a heroin addict and his wrists are therefore scarred with a gazillion needle-track marks. Maybe he has a blood-circulation disorder that keeps him perpetually cold.
But I suspect the truth is more serious than that—like maybe he tried to kill himself once and there are razor-blade scars.
It's hard for me to believe that Herr Silverman once attempted suicide, because he's so together now; he's really the most admirable adult I know.
Sometimes I actually hope that he did once feel empty and hopeless and helpless enough to slash his wrists to the bone, because if he felt that horrible and survived to be such a fantastic grown-up, then maybe there's hope for me.
Whenever I have some free time I wonder about what Herr Silverman might be hiding, and I try to unlock his mystery in my mind, creating all sorts of suicide-inducing scenarios, inventing his past.
Some days I have his parents beat him with clothes hangers and starve him.
Other days his classmates throw him to the ground and kick him until he's wet with blood, at which point they take turns pissing on his head.
Sometimes he suffers from unrequited love and cries every single night alone in his closet clutching a pillow to his chest.
Other times he's abducted by a sadistic psychopath who waterboards him nightly—Guantánamo Bay–style—and deprives him of drinking water during the day while he is forced to sit in a Clockwork Orange–type room full of strobe lights, Beethoven symphonies, and horrific images projected on a huge screen.
I don't think anyone else has noticed Herr Silverman's constantly clothed forearms, or if they have, no one has said anything about it in class. I haven't overheard anything in the hallways.
I wonder if I'm really the only one who's noticed, and if so, what does that say about me?
Does that make me weird?
(Or weirder than I already am?)
Or just observant?
So many times I've thought about asking Herr Silverman why he never rolls up his sleeves, but I don't for some reason.
Some days he encourages me to write; other days he says I'm "gifted" and then smiles like he's being truthful, and I'll come close to asking him the question about his never-exposed forearms, but I never do, and that seems odd—utterly ridiculous, considering how badly I want to ask and how much the answer could save me.
As if his response will be sacred or life-altering or something and I'm saving it for later—like an emotional antibiotic, or a depression lifeboat.
Sometimes I really believe that.
Maybe my brain's just fucked.
Or maybe I'm terrified that I might be wrong about him and I'm just making things up in my head—that there's nothing under those shirtsleeves at all, and he just likes the look of covered forearms.
It's a fashion statement.
He's more like Linda than I am.
End of story.
I worry Herr Silverman will laugh at me when I ask about his covered forearms.
He'll make me feel stupid for wondering—hoping—all this time.
That he'll call me a freak.
That he'll think I'm a pervert for thinking about it so much.
That he'll pull an ugly, disgusted face that'll make me feel like he and I could never ever be similar at all, and I'm therefore delusional.
That would kill me, I think.
Do my spirit in for good.
It really would.
And so I've come to worry that my not asking is simply the product of my boundless cowardice.
As I sit there alone at the breakfast table wondering if Linda will remember today's significance, knowing deep down that she's simply not going to call—I decide to instead wonder if the Nazi officer who carried my P-38 in WWII ever dreamed his sidearm would end up as modern art, across the Atlantic Ocean, in New Jersey, seventy-some years later, loaded and ready to kill the closest modern-day equivalent of a Nazi that we have at my high school.
The German who originally owned the P-38—what was his name?
Was he one of the nice Germans Herr Silverman tells us about? The ones who didn't hate Jews or gays or blacks or anyone really but just had the misfortune of being born in Germany during a really fucked time.
Was he anything like me?
I have this signature really long dirty-blond hair that hangs over my eyes and past my shoulders. I've been growing it for years, ever since the government came after my dad and he fled the country.
And my long locks piss Linda off something awful, especially since she's into contemporary fashion. She says I look like a "grunge-rock stoner" and back when she was still around caring about me, Linda actually made me submit to a drug test—pissing into a cup—which I passed.
I didn't get Linda a good-bye present, and I start to feel guilty about that, so I cut off all my hair with the scissors in the kitchen—the ones we usually use to cut food.
I cut it all down to the scalp in a wild orgy of arms and hands and silver blades.
Then I mash all of my hair into a big ball and wrap it in pink paper.
I'm laughing the whole time.
I cut out a little square of pink paper and write on the back.
Here you go.
You got your wish.
I fold the square in half and tape it to the gift, which looks quite odd—almost like I tried to wrap a pocket of air.
Then I stick the present in the refrigerator, which seems hilarious.
Linda will be looking for a chilled bottle of Riesling to calm her jangled nerves after getting the news about her son ridding the world of Asher Beal and Leonard Peacock too.
She'll find the pink wrap job.
Linda will wonder about my allusion to Samson and Delilah when she reads the card, because that was the title of my father's failed sophomore record, but will get the joke just as soon as she opens her present.
I imagine her clutching her chest, faking the tears, playing the victim, and being all dramatic.
Jean-Luc will really have his professionally manicured French hands full.
No sex for him maybe, or maybe not.
Maybe their affair will blossom without me around to psychologically anchor poor Linda to reality and maternal duties.
Maybe once I'm gone, she'll float away to France like a shiny new silver little- kid birthday balloon.
She'll probably even lose a dress size without me around to trigger her "stress eating."
Maybe Linda won't return to our house ever again.
Maybe she and Jean-Luc will go to the fashion capital of the world, the City of Light, auw-hauh-hauw!, and screw like bunnies happily ever after.
She'll sell everything, and the new homeowners will find my hair in the refrigerator and be like What the ...?
My hair'll just end up in the trash and that will be that.
Or maybe they'll donate my locks to one of those wig-making places that help out kids with cancer. Like my hair would get a second shot at life with a little innocent-hearted bald chemo girl maybe.
I'd like that.
I really would.
My hair deserves it.
So I'm really hoping for that cancer-kid-helping outcome if Linda goes to France without coming home first, or maybe even Linda will donate my hair.
Anything's possible, I guess.
I stare at the mirror over the kitchen sink.
The no-hair guy staring back at me looks so strange now.
He's like a different person with all uneven patches on his scalp.
He looks thinner.
I can see his cheekbones sticking out where his blond curtains used to hang.
How long has this guy been hiding under my hair?
I don't like him.
"I'm going to kill you later today," I say to that guy in the mirror, and he just smiles back at me like he can't wait.
"Promise?" I hear someone say, which freaks me out, because my lips didn't move.
I mean—it wasn't me who said, "Promise?"
It's like there's a voice trapped inside the glass.
So I stop looking in the mirror.
Just for good measure, I smash that mirror with a coffee mug, because I don't want the mirror me to speak ever again.
Shards rain down into the sink and then a million little mes look up like so many tiny minnows.
I'm already late for school, but I need to stop at my next-door-neighbor Walt's so that I can give him his present.
Today, I knock once and let myself into Walt's house because he has to walk slowly with one of those gray-piped four-footed walkers that has dirty tennis balls attached to protect his hardwood floors. It's difficult for him to get around, especially with bad lungs, so he just gave me a key and said, "Come in whenever you feel like it. And come often!"
He's been smoking since he was twelve, and I've been helping him buy his Pall Mall Reds on the Internet to save money. The first time, I found this phenomenal deal: two hundred cigarettes for nineteen dollars, and he proclaimed me a hero right then and there. He doesn't even have a computer in his home, let alone the Internet. So it was like I performed a miracle, getting cigarettes that cheap delivered to his doorstep, because he was paying a hell of a lot more at the local convenience store. I've been bringing over my laptop—our Internet signal reaches his living room—and we've been searching for the best deals every week. He's always trying to give me half of what he saves, but I never take his money.
It's funny because he's rich, but always keen on finding a bargain. Maybe that's why he's rich. I don't know.
A "helper" comes and takes care of him most days, but not until nine thirty AM, so it's always just Walt and me before school.
"Walt?" I say as I walk through the smoky hallway, under the crystal chandelier, toward the smoky living room where he usually sleeps surrounded by overflowing ashtrays and empty bottles. "Walt?"
I find him in his La-Z-Boy, smoking a Pall Mall Red, eyes bloodshot from drinking scotch last night.
His robe isn't shut, so I can see his naked, hairless chest. It's the pinkish- red sunset color of conch-shell innards.
He looks at me with his best black-and-white movie-star face and says, "You despise me, don't you?"
It's a line from Casablanca, which we've watched together a million times.
Standing next to his chair with my backpack between my feet, I answer with Rick's follow-up line in the film, saying, "If I gave you any thought I probably would."
Then I follow it with a line from The Big Sleep, saying, "My, my, my. Such a lot of guns around town and so few brains," which feels pretty cool and authentic considering I have the Nazi P-38 in my backpack.
Excerpted from Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick. Copyright © 2014 Matthew Quick. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted August 4, 2013
A brilliant, yet lost, alone and angry young man tells his painful story of how he ended up deciding to commit murder and then suicide. His tale is emotionally torturous and he feels like a non-person in the eyes of most of the world, including his self-absorbed mother. Only two people seem to truly care about him, his next door neighbor, an aging old man with two addictions, cigarettes and Bogart/Bacall movies. The other is his Holocaust teacher, Herr Silverman. Having made his decision to die, Leonard chose his eighteenth birthday as his final day on Earth, to make his statement to the world, reveal his pain and hopefully find peace. Can anyone save him? What secrets has he kept hidden for so many years? Does he want to be saved?
As Leonard says good-bye to the world in his own cryptic way, his mental dialogue is angst-filled and raw. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick is a gritty and bleak look into depression, loneliness and what happens when a child fails to thrive emotionally in a world that doesn’t seem to care about him. Matthew Quick has done an amazing job of bringing Leonard to life, warts and all. I instantly felt for this young man, because his pain was evident, the reasons revealed in small bits, one rejection after another. I felt I was in Leonard’s mind, listening to him, and frankly, agreeing with him, he definitely got the short end of the stick throughout most of his life, even Leonard recognized when it all began to go bad and the joy of being an innocent child was sucked out of him. Mr. Quick’s writing style is very descriptive, dark and foreboding, perfectly aligning with the theme of suicide and depression in a young man crying out internally for help, to be wanted and needed.
This should be a MUST read for all, especially those who merely shake their heads in disgust that suicide is the coward’s way out, then turn their backs on the topic. This isn’t a piece of fluff, Matthew Quick has written a thoughtful piece, fiction or not, that will carve your heart out with a dull blade.
An Arc edition was provided by NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in exchange for my honest review.
13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 24, 2013
I saw this book had a review of only 3 stars and realized people were unfairly ignoring it. This is one of the BEST BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ IN MY LIFE! It's truly life changing and worth every penny. I stayed up all day and all night just to know what would happen next. Days after finishing it i still find myself thinking of poor Leonard and comparing the book's characters to real people in my life. As the last review said, this is a must read for all. The ending was a bit cryptic, but it allowed me to continue thinking about it and decide for myself what should happen and what would happen with the loose ends. I believe Mr. Quick made it that way to allow you to think and to make your own decisions. Though this book is a great standalone, and i don't know how you could make a good sequel, i do wish i knew a little more about the ending. But like I said, that is how we're supposed to feel. Regardless, if you have not read this book, and have not even considered reading it, think again. It's worth every penny and more.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 14, 2013
I was really interested in reading Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by author Matthew Quick the moment I finished reading the description of the novel. It sounded like a novel that would stir up emotion in me, thrill me and keep me on the edge of my seat. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock did all of those things and then some. I absolutely adored and loved this read so much I can’t even put my thoughts or emotions into words.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock takes place on the main character Leonard Peacock’s birthday, it’s a very special day for Leonard because he is going to kill his ex-best friend with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol and then kill himself. However Leonard first plans on going to see the people who matter to him most and give them a goodbye present so that when they learn about the crime he plans to commit after he commits it they won’t have a bad final memory of him.
Leonard goes to visit the four people who mattered to him most: His neighbor Walt, one of his musically inclined classmates, the girl he has a crush on and his teacher Herr Silverman. As Leonard goes to visit each of these people (and times moves toward the moment when he will pull of his murder-suicide) Leonard begins to give away the plan he is will put into action and the events that led him to make this decision.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was a novel that I fell in love with right from the start. It was a dark and haunting read that broke my heart, took me on an emotional roller coaster and had me hoping that Leonard would change his fate before it would become too late. The writing style stirred up far too many emotions in me, the footnotes used in the novel as well as Leonard’s dark and depressing thoughts left me both sad and angry. There were so many moments where I was either brought to tears or began crying from Quick’s writing style that made Leonard come alive and become more than just a character.
The characters introduced in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock are ones that will connect with readers in some way or form. The main character Leonard is both the good guy and the bad guy and once you discover just what his ex-best friend has done you have to wonder if what Leonard’s doing (despite how totally dark and wrong it is) can be justified. There’s a variety of characters from a dedicated Christian girl to his neighbor and friend Walt who is obsessed with Humphrey Bogart movies and to himself. Despite seeing each character for only a small amount of time I felt that a relationship is established with each character that made the goodbyes very heartfelt.
When reading Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock I personally think that a lot of readers will find Leonard’s dark thoughts and dark family history to be intriguing. It’s so seldom that I get to read about a character who is messed up and is actually very smart and applies those smarts in the plot. Leonard is a unique character who pulled me into the plot and left me reading and interested until the very last page. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a novel that will keep you hooked. I never wanted to put it down.
I’d recommend Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock to readers who are looking for an addictive and dark read. Readers who are fans of plots that are thrilling and emotional will eat this read right up. Anybody who is looking for a tear jerker needs to check out Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock as soon as possible.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 10, 2013
This is without a doubt one of the greatest books i have ever read. This is the type of book that stays with you when you finish it, the type that leaves you with something to think about when you finish it. this is a must read for everyone
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 21, 2013
This was a really interesting book. I liked it and all the characters and the messages or morals and how the bok made me think. But the end was certainly not what I was expecting. It was like I am reading along and then I turn the page and it simply says "For more information go to fecebook" or something like that. I was really looking forward to what was going to happen to Leonard afterwards. I wanted to see him jerk his mom back into reality and to see how the rest of his life turned out. I found out about this bok before it was published an was every excited. However if Quick had made the book longer, I would have gladly wait several more months for it to b published. On the other hand, the abrupt ending to the book could have been saying something I just didn't get.
Overall it was a good book. If I could I would rate it a 3.9 because this book doesn't seem like it should have been JUST a 3.
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 14, 2014
Posted January 5, 2014
Posted January 4, 2014
Weird weird book but brillant. Didnt go they way thatni.excpected which is good i enjoyed it read it within 24 hrs. I really didnt exspect leonard to hold a gryge toward asher for that reason. I really love the relationship between leonard and his teacher.leonard was somone who didnt care about peoples opinions but he cared about others feelings, if u know what i mean,and i really liked that about him and he was clever, and thats somthing that brought the story together.honestly i love the ending which is rare so yeahWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 18, 2013
I heard about this book in my senior lit class and was drawn into it immediately. I thought the book was amazing and could connect really well with today's world. For example, Leonard's mom works all the time and hardly even notices him. In today's world I feel like we are so job driven and it’s all about how much money we make when, like Leonard says, we need to enjoy our lives and realize that it’s not all about money and working. One of the good things about this book is that Mathew Quick wrote it in a way that kept me drawn in throughout the whole book and I had a hard time putting it down. I would recommend this book to everyone, it really opened up my eyes to what my future is going to look like, what’s going on in the word around me, and what my relationships need to look. Many people may turn it down because they think that it’s about a school shooting, but in reality the bigger part of the book is about his relationships with the people in his life and why he is feeling the ways he is. I thought this book was fantastic and everyone should read it; so much about life can be learned from it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 17, 2013
For a high school boy without a mother around and very few friends, life can seem quite dreadful. Leonard Peacock deals with this on a day to day basis, but takes it to the extreme with starting the book stating he’s going to kill himself along with a classmate by the end of the day. Following Leonard’s last day brings up his past, such as his time spent with a devout Christian girl, to his future, seen through letters his family sends him from their lighthouse. Relationships, adult life, and humanity itself are questioned throughout the book, drawing the reader in more and more to find out what exactly is going to happen to dear Leonard. Not once was I bored, for the sarcastic main character is easy to get along with and easy to feel as if you’re traveling with him through his (possible) last day on Earth.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 26, 2013
Posted November 21, 2013
I have to admit, my first thought when I finished this book was, "hmmm, that was interesting." In fact, I wasn't really sure what I was going to rate it, much less how I was going to review it. The one thing that I knew was that it was different from any other book I have ever read. In the two weeks since I finished the book, it hasn't gotten any easier to define my feelings, except to say that this was a book of contrasts for me. It was filled with moments of clarity and confusion, profound quotes and wasted words, important insights and trite excuses and a jumbled mass of Leonard's present and past.
Perhaps it is easiest to start with an overview of the story. It is Leonard Peacock's birthday, and for his birthday he has decided to kill his former best friend, Asher Beal, and then himself. Before he can do that, though, he has a present to give to the 4 people that he considers the most important in his life. Sounds straightforward, doesn't it? But nothing about this book is straightforward. Not the writing style that Quick uses, not the motivations of the characters, and certainly not the mind of Leonard Peacock. To say that Leonard is damaged goods is an understatement. From the beginning it is apparent that he is one of those kids in high school that just don't fit in anywhere, but the why is a lot less clear. As Leonard tells his story, we are given a lot of the events in his life that led to this point. What we don't get much of is the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of the characters that lead to these events.
One of the most interesting things about this book was the writing style that Matthew Quick used to tell the story. The basic events of the story are told by Leonard in narrative form. As such, this part of the book does not give much insight into what the characters are thinking or feeling. We are treated to the inner workings of Leonard's mind, though, in the form of footnotes to the narrative. These are mostly the rambling of Leonard's inner mind and, as such, they have a more conversational and intimate tone. It is here that we get more of a feel for Leonard's emotional well being and state of mind. Then there are the letters. They appeared out of nowhere, leaving me confused as to their purpose at first. In the end, I was left wondering whether all these contrasting story devices and the confusion that are their result are a the mark of an author who has lost control of his story, or the result of a genius who is using them to illustrate the contrasts and confusion of the character that is Leonard Peacock. It would be easy to dismiss them as the former, but that would be doing the book a disservice, I think. In the end, I found that using the various devices worked for a couple of reasons. First, I thought they worked to show the different facets of Leonard's character. Secondly, they allowed me to feel some of the confusion that Leonard's life had become and the conflicting emotions he had about himself.
What I found most disturbing about the book, was the lack of awareness of any of the adults in Leonard's life. In fact, of all of the adults that we encounter in the story, only one seems to have any idea that things in Leonard's life are about to spin out of control. The rest of the adults, from Leonard's absentee mother on down through the school administrators and teachers, seem determined to let Leonard down. The ones that are not incredibly self-absorbed, seem bent on pretending that everything is normal and either there is nothing to worry about, or if there is, there is nothing they can do about it. Admittedly, the story is being told from the viewpoint of a student, who is likely to see the adults as shallow and self-absorbed. Even so, I felt that there was an important lesson for adults here.
Bottom line, this is not a book for everyone, that is for sure. As a reader, though, I found that it elicited strong feelings and for that reason I am giving it 4 stars. Some readers may find the jumble of story telling devices confusing, or Leonard's attitude either too whiny, to wrapped up in excuses, or just not realistic. I found that those items were the ones that made me think and ultimately to question what I was reading. Given the subject of this book, I think that is an important outcome. My one caveat is that I was left feeling that this book could be either a positive influence on a teenager, or a negative one, depending on the reader. I actually told one friend I was not sure how I would feel about my sons read it if they were a teenagers, but I could certainly see it starting some good discussions. My advice as a parent is to look at the book yourself, and then determine if it is right for your teenager.
My thanks to Little, Brown, and Company and Netgalley for making this book available to me in exchange for a review.
Posted November 15, 2013
This book was amazing, and I couldn't put it down. I loved how it displayed the topic of suicide in a raw,real way. Not like the silly & absurd way most people believe suicide is. Leonard Peacock was a real teenage boy, with real problems. This book really showed me always be nice to people because you really never know what people are going through. I would of given this book 5 stars. But I honestly hated the ending. Great book otherwise!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 27, 2013
I began listening to author Michael Quick’s dark novel, FORGIVE ME LEONARD PEACOCK, with a bit of trepidation. It is, after all, a story about a teenager en route to school where he plans a murder/suicide. However, after listening to this riveting story, I would highly recommend it, especially to parents and anyone dealing with teenagers. Narrator Noah Galvin does an excellent job bringing these complex characters to life, particularly the troubled teen, Leonard Peacock. Galvin’s cadence holds your attention as the story deals with tough issues for teens. His vocalizations emphasis the emotions and struggles presented throughout the story. Leonard Peacock is going to school with four presents and his grandfather’s loaded souvenir Nazi-issue P-38 pistol in his backpack. It’s his 18th birthday and he plans to kill his former best friend, Asher Beal, and then himself. But first, he has to deliver the presents to a few people who matter in his life. These people are: Walt, his elderly Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next door neighbor; Baback, a musically gifted classmate; Lauren, a Christian home schooled girl he has a crush on that passes out religious tracts at the train station; and Herr Silverman, the teacher of his Holocaust studies class. With the deliver of each gift, readers/listeners learn more about Leonard’s background, his emotional state, and why he feels he must do what he has planned. You also discover he wants to belong and be cared for and about. Leonard is suffering from a dark secret he’s been hiding that is destroying him. He has tried to seek help with little or no response. As Leonard draws nearer to his goal, you find the ruthless killer is a scared, lonely boy in need of help and love, who has an amazing outlook on life. Feeling abandoned by his worthless parents, let down by the adults around him and out of place among his classmates, Leonard sees only sadness and pain ahead for himself. Can he find someone to show him there is hope and possibilities past the pain he feels now? This story moves at a steady pace and can be a bit confusing at first when seemingly unrelated letters from the future are woven in. However, as the story unfolds the letters play an important part of the story. Quick does an excellent job stressing there are possibilities beyond present pain if one just holds on and looks to the future. The characters are well-developed, memorable and alarmingly realistic. Quick pulls you in to feel the emotions of these characters as the story builds to a dramatic conclusion. The activities at Leonard’s high school and with the students could be any school in the nation making this a must read novel. FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK is a fascinating story that will tug at your heart strings with elements that could have been pulled from today’s headlines. FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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