by Matthew Quick
To be published by Little, Brown BFYR
on August 13, 2013
Source: e-ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley. Please see my full FTC statement on right sidebar.
Summary from Goodreads: 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.My take: At times funny, suspenseful, and heart wrenching, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is about faith and friendship, about how hard it can be to ask for and receive help, about the importance of human connection.
Leonard wakes up on his birthday with a plan: he's going to use his grandfather's WWII pistol to kill some guy named Asher Beal and then himself. But before that, he has a few gifts to drop off, gifts to four people who have made some sort of difference in his life.
Leonard is the kind of narrator I adore: smart and sarcastic, with an unpredictability that kept me a little off-balance. Because Leonard is not entirely comfortable in his world, he's a keen observer, a vulnerable smart-ass. He also curses a lot. My problem with him was that he narrates with a lot of footnotes. I am not a fan of footnotes and they are incredibly annoying to read on a Kindle, because you have to click out of the main page to read them. So I did not read every single one, and I hope Leonard can forgive me :)
Leonard reveals his murder-suicide plan right off, and then the reader spends the book trying to figure out a) if and b) why Leonard is going to carry it out. Leonard doesn't reveal his motivations for some time. He's going around handing out his gifts, he's interacting with the teachers who have noticed his unusual behavior, he's following random commuters around, trying to figure out if what adults promise is true: do things get better after high school? The book also includes "letters from the future" to Leonard, an aspect of the book that had me a little puzzled initially.
This whole book is a puzzle. I kept trying to figure Leonard out. Was he suicidal? Suffering from depression? Did he have some kind of revenge fantasy against kids who had wronged him? He definitely had one of the most self-absorbed, negligent parents I've seen in YA. But there are also a lot of other adults in the book who care about him, whether Leonard notices this or not.
I think that the structure of Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock made this book more of an intellectual read than an emotional one for me. Leonard remained such an enigma for so long that I can't say I ever connected with him fully. But Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is definitely a gripping and original book, one that I'd recommend to fans of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher or Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King.