Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Published: 15th August 2013
Who’s it for? Teens. Older teens.
What’s it about? How would you spend your birthday if you knew it would be your last?
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 teenager 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.
What’s good about it? The writing style is really interesting, blunt and brutally honest. In fact that’s really the main way I can describe this book: unflinchingly honest.
I quite liked the letters from the future. It confused me initially but once I realised the significance of them it was all the more heartbreaking.
What’s bad about it? I really couldn’t get on with the footnotes. I know it was part of Leonard’s style but I just wished the footnotes were actually just part of the main body of text as flitting between the two was irritating. Could just be me though.
It ends too abruptly. I wanted more!
The verdict? I was sent a proof of this (unsolicited) in exchange for an honest review. So I’ll be honest.
You might be wondering why I have next to nothing under the good and bad categories. Well, the thing is I couldn’t really decide. Did I enjoy reading this? Enjoy is probably not the right word, but I didn’t hate it either – far from it. It’s a darkly emotional path that follows the lead up to a suicide attempt – by the time I finished reading it I was a sobbing mess – Leonard’s life is just so terrible and his mother is negligent and self-absorbed. It’s easy to hate Linda because she’s just so oblivious to everything that’s going on.
Leonard’s friendships were the most interesting parts of the book, because they weren’t like your average friendships, but each one is navigated in turn, so you realise just how awkward two of them truly are. Interestingly enough the adults are, in some ways, better friends to him than the people his own age, his friendship with Herr Silverman, for example, is actually quite sweet.
It’s impossible to forget Leonard’s purpose throughout the story, you’re constantly reminded of his end goal: to kill Asher and then kill himself. But there are all these moments, these little sections where if just one person – anyone really- acknowledged his birthday then he’d stop and each one of those moments absolutely killed me. But it was the true revelation, the real reason why he wanted to kill Asher … that’s the most heartbreaking part of it all.
This is not an easy read. It’s heartbreaking, depressing, emotional and curiously lovely in places. It’s an excellent look at teen suicide, bullying and fear.
Read it, do.