Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Review

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

4 stars out of 5

Today is Leonard Peacock's 18th birthday. Today he will go to school, deliver 4 presents to the people he cares about most, and then murder the boy who's been torturing him for years and kill himself.

This book is filled with vivid images and great writing--words that hit like hammers and resonate long after you've moved to the next page. There are so many lines that I want to underline or highlight and read again because they have a kind of awful truth in them. But of course, I'd never deface a book, even for lines that I love.

I love that Quick isn't afraid to write about gritty things. So much of the story is told deep in Leonard's POV with long blocks of exposition. Normally that sort of book is slow and plodding, but this one drags you along and makes you want to keep reading. There's such amazing character voice throughout. I can still hear Leonard talking in my mind, the inflection of his words, his desperation, his hope, his insights and fears. All of them combine to make a unique story that is so hard to read and so beautiful at the same time. Because this book is filled with awful, terrible things. From page one Leonard tells us he's going to kill one of his classmates and then kill himself. But it's as much a book about hope as it is about darkness.

I particularly loved the "Letters From The Future" idea. What a fantastic way to get teens to focus on thinking about the good things that are waiting for them beyond high school.

Finally, there's a trend in YA books today to promote greater diversity in characters. It's a fantastic movement and an admirable goal. But the consequence of that trend is too many books with token LGBT or differently-abled secondary characters - ones that feel tacked onto the story just so the author can give a nod to having a diverse character. Quick didn't go that route. His characters FIT the story and their sexual orientation is part of their character and not just a convenient story point. This book is diversity done right.

Forgive Me, Leonard  Peacock will appeal to fans of It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini and Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford.

Favorite line: "Because you start a revolution one decision at a time, with each breath you take."

Find it on Goodreads >>

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