288 pages // e-galley from NetGalley (thank you!)
Published August 13, 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
BOOKSTORE: The Book Depository • Amazon
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.
People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.
-FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK, uncorrected proof
Let me get one thing straight: if you get into this expecting action, lots of blood, and a dramatic story, then this is not the book for you. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is about Leonard's struggles to come to terms with what happened in his past, to deal with a neglectful mother, and to leave this earth without any loose ends. It's a very depressing book, but not overbearingly so. Quick manages to narrate the events with a raw and broken voice that I felt really brought out Leonard's character as a troubled teen. Truly, the voice was what made the book so believable and emotional.
It's easy to see at once that Leonard is no ordinary person - and not because he smuggles his grandfather's World War II gun into his bag and wraps it up in pink paper to bring to school. Throughout the book, it's apparent that he's an extremely intelligent kid, not only in terms of academics, but also of the observation and study of the people around him. Much of his intelligence - and therefore his thoughts - are spurred on by his depression, but what really stood out to me was how Quick was able to make Leonard seem like such a disturbed person inside, but outside, he showed a nothing. That's skill!
While what Leonard goes through in the book is probably something I will never be able to relate to, that didn't make his character any less easy to connect with. In fact, all the characters in this book play very important parts in Leonard's journey. Quick never once neglected to develop each of their personas, no matter how small their roles were. I grew particularly attached to Herr Silverman, Leonard's history teacher. He's the kind of person everyone would want in their life, I think. Caring, concerned, respectful, and the best part: different from the crowd. He's unlike the other teachers in many ways: he shakes hands with his students as the come in, asks unorthodox but thought-provoking questions, and isn't afraid to make students uncomfortable; the moment Leonard described him, I liked him at once.
With a different style of writing that worked exceptionally well, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, had my heart aching for Leonard and my heart pounding in my chest. Matthew Quick isn't afraid to write the truth and present it to you, sans any kind of sweetening. Apart from the abrupt and slightly unsatisfying ending, I highly recommend this book. It may be short, but it's pages are loaded with emotion, and tells a very realistic story of a teenage boy trying to find his place in the world. Something which I think a lot of people will be able to relate to.