Wednesday, August 7, 2013

ARC Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Publication: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (August 13, 2013)

Description:  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.

My Thoughts: FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK was a compelling story that made me ache for its main character. Leonard Peacock has decided to celebrate his eighteenth birthday by killing a former friend and taking his own life too. Before he does that, he needs to give presents to four people in his life who have meant a lot to him.

As his day progresses, we see him visiting his elderly next door neighbor. He and Walt have spent hours and hours watching old black-and-white Humphrey Bogart movies. Leonard longs for the black-and-white life that looks so much better than the life he is living. He also has a present for Baback. They aren't friends but Leonard has spent countless hours listening to Baback play his violin in the school auditorium. The music has moved Leonard as has Baback's story of his life in Iran. Leonard also has to give a present to Lauren who is a home-schooled Christian girl that Leonard has a crush on. Lauren has tried to convert him to Christianity but Leonard doesn't have that sort of faith.

The final person that Leonard wants to give a present to is his Holocaust Studies teacher Herr Silverman. Leonard feels that Herr Silverman is the only one at school who understands him and connects with him.

As the day unfolds we learn more and more about the events that have led to his decision to kill a former friend and take his own life. Leonard is an articulate narrator of his own story. 

Some random thoughts occurred to me as I was reading this book. First of all, parents should be required to get and maintain licenses before having children. It seems like Leonard got a particularly bad set of selfish, irresponsible ones. Both parents have abandoned him. His one-hit-wonder rock star dad who fell in love with drugs and alcohol before running away to Brazil isn't really much worse than his fashion-obsessed mother who is so busy with her career in New York City and her French lover that Leonard isn't even on her radar. Even when told how unhappy Leonard is, she won't get him help for fear of how it would reflect on her. Second, there are people at his school who care besides Herr Silverman. His AP English teacher and the Guidance Counselor at the school are trying to help. Leonard is able to fool them with his "Hollywood face" though and they didn't push.

This story of a young man abused, neglected and pushed to his limits will linger in my mind for a long time. 

Favorite Quote:
Do anything! Something! Because you start a revolution one decision at a time, with each breath you take. Just don't go back to that miserable place you go every day. Show me it's possible to be an adult and also be happy. Please.
I got this ARC at ALA. You can buy your copy here.

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