Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

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4.7
 
4.6 (3)
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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author(s)
Age Range
13+
Release Date
August 13, 2013
ISBN
0316221333
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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.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Smartly Written
(Updated: September 03, 2013)
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
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 introduced. In certain chapters of the book, the narrative and setting switches and there 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 pain.

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.
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User reviews

3 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.6
Plot 
 
4.7  (3)
Characters 
 
4.7  (3)
Writing Style 
 
4.3  (3)
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Poignant and moving
(Updated: October 09, 2016)
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Matthew Quick’s Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was a poignant, moving novel that everyone needs to read. Combining humour and hope, the novel targets the most controversial issues effecting teenagers today: depression and school shootings.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a dark book. Leonard is in a really bad place at the beginning of the novel. It’s his eighteenth birthday and, instead of celebrating, he plans to kill his former best friend, Asher, and then himself. Before that happens, he wants to say goodbye to the four people most important to him: his Humphrey Bogart obsessed neighbour; the musical prodigy he never talks to; the Christian home-schooled girl he has a crush on; and his favourite teacher, Herr Silverman. As Leonard speaks to each of these people, his secrets and the events that led up to this moment are slowly revealed.

Leonard is probably one of the loneliest characters I have ever read. My heart broke every single chapter as I read his interactions with his friends. He continually mentions that if just one person remembered that it was his birthday, he wouldn’t go through with his plan. But no one does. And then the tears started (mine). There is a part of him that just wants to die and be rid of this world and the horrors of it, but a larger part of him is waiting to be saved. Leonard’s voice is very honest and you can’t help but feel for him, which lends an authenticity to the book. Leonard enjoys looking at complex situations and asking the hard questions, which the novel replicates. The book constantly questions the reader over the role of religion, of the purpose of life and death, and the effects of parental neglect and depression.

I loved Herr Silverman, he was an amazing character. If only I had teachers like this when I was in high-school, teachers who actually care for their students and don’t treat them like they’re overgrown babies, but rather young adults with valid opinions of their own. He is the only one who can see through Leonard’s façade and guesses that Leonard is suicidal. He genuinely cares for Leonard and promises that he will be there for Leonard whenever he needs a shoulder to cry on. There is a little mystery surrounding Herr Silverman which I was eager to learn about – why he doesn’t ever roll up his sleeves. The answer is just as sad as you can imagine, but hopeful, too. (I do have to say I absolutely hated Herr Silverman’s boyfriend. He was selfish and rude and I wanted Herr Silverman to just dump him.)

The writing was very confronting. As we are experiencing the book through Leonard’s eyes, his feelings warp and shape his experiences. I found myself agreeing with him during many of his conversations, especially when he spoke about religion. I honestly thought I would not like Leonard. When I read the blurb of the book, I suspected Leonard would remind me too much of that stereotypical, creepy “nice guy” who constantly laments over why he’s single because he’s such a “nice guy” but then trolls and harasses women. You know the kind I’m talking about. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case here, but I think that was due to Quick’s writing style. As mentioned earlier, Leonard is a very honest character, sometimes too honest, and he doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable. This made the book feel hyper realistic and I was blown away by the emotional impact Leonard had on me.

However, I was confused by the ending of the book. It just kind of … ends. Leonard is not a stable boy, and I don’t think he’s going to be ok or accept what had happened to him years ago. He really needs professional help, otherwise he will only revert back to his state before the beginning of the book. I think the flatness of the ending suggests that the reader is supposed to come up with their own ending for Leonard. It definitely ends on a hopeful note, so we are led to believe that Leonard will be ok in the end, but that negated the realistic feel of the entirety of the book. People don’t just get over something as traumatic as what Leonard experienced (I won’t say what happened this is the heart of the novel and perfectly explains Leonard’s decision-making). I felt that the ending didn’t match the tone and feel of the rest of the novel, which really disappointed me.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was a challenging novel to read, but I am definitely glad that I did. This is a book that is going to stay with me for a long time. I can’t wait to check out Matthew Quick’s other books, to see if he can replicate the emotional roller-coaster that was Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.
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A powerful, soul-changing book. A must read.
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
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.
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Powerful and important
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is heartbreaking from the start. The writing is angsty and, at times, downright depressing. Leonard is initially a difficult character to empathize with, though your heart will certainly break for him as he hands out gifts his four gifts and reveals bit by bit what led to this decision.

The story is slow to build, showing us just how intelligent Leonard is – and how different from his peers. He has an immense feeling of loneliness and is desperate to see that the future holds happiness and something truly good. This desperation is perpetuated by the unhappiness of the adults in his life: his absentee father with drug and alcohol problems, his mother who prefers working to spending time with her child, and the adults that he sees on the train who are headed to work and dislike their jobs.

Through the relationships that Leonard does have – his favourite teacher, his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed neighbour, a violinist at his school, and the pastor’s daughter that he met at the train station – we’re shown a different side of him. One that might just have a reason to keep on living. I particularly loved his relationship with Herr Silverman, as he’s the kind of teacher that every teen should have.

This story is interspersed with letters from the future that Leonard had written to himself. While this shift in perspective threw me off at first, I quickly grew to love the idea – and the feeling of hope that it brought.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a powerful and important book that everyone should read. I have a feeling that it will stay with me for quite a while.
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