Book Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick.
Summary: Eighteen-year-old Leonard Peacock knows exactly what he’ll do. He’ll say goodbye. Not to his mum - who he calls Linda because it annoys her - who’s moved out and left him to fend for himself. Nor to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing the unthinkable. But to his four friends: a Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour, a teenage violin virtuoso, a pastor’s daughter and a teacher.
Most of the time, Leonard believes he’s weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he’s not. He wants to thank them, and say goodbye.
I could talk about Leonard for ages, he is a character I feel for deeply. This story starts with the huge revelation that Leonard plans to commit suicide and also kill his former best friend. The entirety of this story takes place in 24 hours with the addition of a few painful flashbacks. Leonard is an 18 year old kid from a very broken home with a missing alcoholic father and a mother who could care less and abandons him.
As a reader, the constant reminder of an impending suicide is a very heavy subject to deal with. At times I felt extremely uncomfortable, the fact that I learned to care for Leonard was the only reason I managed to finish it. He has zero support, the relationships he has are very superficial when compared to what he had with Ashton, his former best friend. Ashton’s involvement in Leonard’s life is very dark and heartbreaking. They have damaged each other emotionally and physically. Their issues are not the kind that young teens should be dealing with…
I imagine Leonard fitting right in with Holden Caufield (Catcher in the Rye), Gerald Faust (Reality Boy), and Sutter Keely (The Spectacular Now). They all have similiar damaged lives and broken homes. They are each at a turning point in their lives were they either deal with their issues on their own or seek for help. Leonard, despite his struggles, cares deeply about three people who he makes sure to make contact with one final time.
Beware of the footnotes. There are lots and lots of them, which are a tad difficult to get through. They took my focus out of the plot and made me very aware that I was reading rather than losing sense of reality. As one must while reading. Another disconcerting aspect were the random letters from the future. It is not until the story is reaching its climax that we find out the meaning behind them. As for the ending, it is very open ended which fits the story perfectly. I think Matthew Quick captures the fine line between loss and hope. I despise when authors tie the end in a neat little bow when sometimes the story doesn’t merit it.
Leonard’s life is messy and should not end in just one bang.