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 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...
After reading and absolutely loving Every Exquisite Thing and Boy 21, I was looking forward to reading this book.
Leonard Peacock's eighteenth birthday pretty much sucks. His deadbeat mother has forgotten it's his birthday, and because he doesn't share much about himself with others, no one else knows. So he's decided to be the gift-giver, and gives presents to the only four people he remotely cares about: his elderly chain-smoking, Bogart-loving neighbour, the Iranian violin genius he communicates with only by listening to his music, the only teacher who really gets him, and the Jesus-obsessed homeschooled daughter of a preacher.
While doing this, he doesn't tell any of them it's actually his birthday. Because at the end of the day, he plans to give himself the only gift he'll be getting this year...
OMG. This book is. Wow!
I started reading Leonard's story and at first found myself wondering why I should care about this very disturbed individual. I mean, his head is in a very dark place, he continually talks about Nazi Germany, and he's planning a crime on his birthday. But then he interacts with Walt, an old man he considers his friend and is there for him more than his actual mother. It also becomes obvious that not only is he studying the Holocaust at school, but the class happens to be taught by his favourite teacher. And that the person he wants to kill did something truly awful to him.
So I kept reading because his voice was compelling, plus I had to know how this was going to turn out. The more I read, the more I realised that poor Leonard had a lot of problems, but I also felt that he got himself into some weird situations because of his awkwardness and deep abandonment issues. Then the incident that completely gutted him comes out and struck me hard. Seriously, when I reached that part of the story, everything came together and made so much sense.
I also liked the future letters, which were a cool idea and made it easier to get into Leonard's headspace.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is another amazing, sad, troubled and hopeful story by Matthew Quick. He really knows how to weave a tale that gets under your skin and before you realise it, you're feeling so much! This book might at first confuse the reader and make them feel strange about following this weird guy around, and THEN it throws you a curveball and totally shatters you. You hurt so much for Leonard. :(
One of my favourite things about Matthew Quick's characters is that they're all lonely, misunderstood, different people with their own ideas about life and the world. People who see things differently and don't fit the preset mold society likes to design. I can relate to that so much.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, August 2013, ISBN 9781472208187, Headline