Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a poignant and compelling novel, written by Matthew Quick.
Leonard Peacock is turning 18. And he wants to say goodbye.
Not to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing something tragic and horrific. Nor to his mum who’s moved out and left him to fend for himself. But to his four best friends: A Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour. A teenage violin virtuoso. A pastor’s daughter. 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. So he wants to thank them, and bid them farewell.
I haven’t picked up anything by Matthew Quick before, but after reading Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, I know that’s going to change. I was so incredibly touched by this novel and I read most of it with tears streaming down my face. I’m still not sure how I’m going to translate everything that I felt and thought while reading this book into coherent sentences, because I feel this book is one that works best by just reading it, digesting it, and then pushing it onto your closest friends while handing them a box of tissues and demanding; ‘Read it!’. And I feel like this book is hard to talk about because sometimes the best things can’t be explained. The best things stay in the feelings and the emotions, not in the way you try to convince someone else of how amazing the particular thing was – in this case, a book – because you know that your explanation will never be good enough and will never be accurate enough. That’s how I feel about this book. It’s haunting beauty and touching sadness stayed with me beyond the last page and will continue to stay with me for quite a while.
The thing I loved most about this book was not knowing his reasoning behind his decision to take his grandfather’s P-38 pistol and kill his best friend before turning the gun on himself. As the novel progressed, we gradually got more hints as to why Leonard had decided to do this. And every time we learnt another piece of information about his life, another piece of my heart broke for him. Leonard was such a lonely, misunderstood person, and someone I forged a deep connection to. He’s weird and confused and he wanted to die, but a part of him also wanted to be saved. It’s that tiny sliver of hope wedged amongst the darkness that made Leonard so heartbreakingly human. There was a sad honesty in his voice that made his character so convincing and so easy to relate to. Honestly, I think that all of us would be able to see ourselves in a part of Leonard. Perhaps because we feel that no one understands us. Maybe because we’ve lost a friend, or been a victim, or felt like we weren’t deserving of love. I do think there’s a Leonard within all of us – maybe we don’t have his certain tendencies, but I think that everyone has felt alone at some point in their life and been let down by someone we thought we knew. In that way, Leonard Peacock is a character that will resonate with readers of all ages.
There were a couple of other characters in this novel that I particularly loved getting to know, such as Herr Silverman and Leonard’s old neighbour. Both of these people showed Leonard the kindness that no one else did, and that was really touching. These are the people that I think people should have in their lives. The people that remind us we’re not alone and that they care about us, even when it feels like the whole world is against us. Even though Leonard was so determined to carry out his plan, the kindness these people showed him made his footsteps falter just ever so slightly and served as a reminder that he could still change his mind. Herr Silverman was probably my favourite character of the entire novel. He understood Leonard like no one else did and was able to tell that something was different and wrong about him on his birthday. He was someone who listened and helped and put Leonard’s life ahead of his own, showing the courage to help a boy in his class when he had no obligation to do so. His compassion was so touching and finding out the truth surrounding the mystery of his life was even more moving. I think the main message behind this novel is that people might suck, but there is always someone out there who cares. And you will find them eventually. Trust me.
Matthew Quick’s writing style was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. One of the things I loved most about his writing style is the way he’d include footnotes on a lot of the pages to expand on some points or to give extra backstory. I wasn’t sure how exactly I was meant to read this; whether I read the whole page first and then the footnotes, or read the sentence with the little number above it and then go to the footnotes and then continue reading the book from where I left it, but I chose the latter. I’ve never seen this technique used before, but I felt like it enabled readers to get more of an insight into Leonard’s life without it sounding too dull or like there was too much backstory and not enough plot. Additionally, the novel was peppered with dark humour which broke up all the depressing parts into more digestible chunks. Without the little moments of humour, I think this book wouldn’t have been as enjoyable and I’m thankful for the way Matthew Quick was able to weave in these slightly light-hearted moments into a novel that demands you have a tissue box to accompany you while reading it.
There was one aspect of this novel that I was a little bit uncertain about. At certain points in the novel, there are things called ‘Letters from the Future’. At first, I wasn’t sure what these things were or what they meant or if they were real or not. I felt like they were a waste of time to read because I would rather get on with the actual story. But as the story progressed, I learnt the real meaning behind these additions and came to like reading them. Also, they make up quite a bit of this novel because the novel itself isn’t that long. However, I feel like these ‘Letters from the Future’ contributed to making Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock a novel that I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a poignant novel that moved me to tears and spread the message that we are never alone and there is always someone out there who cares about us. I definitely recommend this book for both teenagers and adults because I feel that while the protagonist is a teenager, the messages this touching novel possesses will resonate with everyone and each person will be able to see a part of themselves in Leonard. I’d give Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick a score of 9.5 out of 10. Now it’s time to hear your thoughts! Have you heard of this book before? Do you think it sounds like something you’d be interested in reading? Do you enjoy reading books that revolve around similar topics? What other books have you read with an interesting writing style? I’d love to know!