Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading … Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Monday, July 29, 2013

Just Finished Reading … Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
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.

25 comments:

  1. This sounds really intriguing-I like books that are a puzzle and don't always mind not connecting emotionally (although I probably wouldn't give out 5 stars in that case no matter how interesting or well-written.) I will have to see if I can get this from my library later this year.

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  2. I have heard some great things about this story. If it emotional, I'm so there.

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    1. By the end there is an emotional reveal. I think you'd like this one, Savy!

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  3. Jen- sorry to leave this in the comments section but I just want to make sure you received my review request for Gemini Rising that I emailed to you on 7/17. The short version is pasted below-
    Hi! I'd like to see if you want to review my YA paranormal series, Gemini Rising. Here is a link to my Goodreads site where there are some awesome reviews coming in! I promise, IT'S DIFFERENT! No vamps, no wolves. My book focuses on mother earth's anger witht he human race and what might happen once we have worn out our welcome.

    I would be happy to provide an ebook copy if you are interested and perhaps do a giveaway with an a print book and a swag pack. Please let me know if you're interested!

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17977415-ethereal-fury

    Jessica O'Gorek
    1geminirising@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Jessica,
      I did receive the request. I respond to any review request that comes in the form of an email addressed directly to me. I also get a lot of mass PR mailings and usually delete those -- sorry!
      I'm not accepting any review books until September but I have found your email and will definitely get back to you in the fall if I can fit Gemini Rising into my fall calendar.
      Thanks for stopping by and best of luck with the book!
      Jen

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  4. Sounds interesting. I like snarky and sarcastic characters, and although this book isn't my usual type, I think I might take a look at it. You brought up a great point though. Publishers need to start adapting books to ebooks. I was reading an ebook and it kept mentioning stuff about the book in my hand and flipping pages and stuff even though I had no pages to flip. Anyway, great review.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

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    1. Yes -- I also see a LOT of weirdly formatted e-books and it makes it very challenging to read the story!

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  5. I like the sound of gripping and original as well as piecing together pieces of the Leonard puzzle

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  6. This sounds so unique and fascinating Jen.

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  7. This does sound interesting and I like the concept of the story and that it is more of an intellectual, rather than emotional, book. I liked (but didn't love) the author's Silver Linings Playbook and it seems like he has a knack for writing emotionally damaged characters. I may have to check this one out. Great review!

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    1. I haven't read SLP but I saw the movie. I did feel that this book had a little bit of "movie plotting syndrome" in that all the characters are there to serve a purpose, etc. etc. It all felt very controlled in a way, and I prefer that books have a bit of looser feel than movies, which usually seem SO predictable.

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  8. I think I'd really enjoy reading about the world from Leonard's view; I love smartasses, and it's great that he remains such a mystery for so long. I can sacrifice some character connection if the writing is really good and I'm engaged and interested. Definitely going to check this one out, it sounds unusual and interesting. Great review!

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  9. I'm so curious about this one, and I love how you mentioned that this sparks more thought than it would, say, tears or laughter. Leonard sounds like he could easily become a favorite character, his personality seems very similar to mine!

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

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  10. Oh, I have this arc! I really enjoyed Boy51, by Quick, and want to read more of his books. Thanks for the great review, Jen!

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  11. This sounds amazing! I love stories that are more like puzzles and keep me on my toes. Definitely checking this out.

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  12. I love books that keeps me guessing at every stage. In this one particularly, the "will he or will he not" suspense is something I'm very curious about. I might give it a try, Jen. Great review! :)

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  13. This one did sound really intriguing especially with this becoming more and more of a problem. I think it is kind of a bummer that it takes so long to figure out what happened to him and why he feels this way. Still sounds like a unique and interesting read. I am curious as to what happens in the end.

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  14. Sounds suspenseful. Never heard of this book but I am going to check it out now that I have read your review!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

    Andreea

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  16. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock sounds interesting, and really different than what I usually read. I'm really curious as how the friends help influence him in a positive way. Thanks for sharing!

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  17. "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."
    Footnotes do seem to fit with the description of him, but I completely agree with you. They're also annoying to read in regular fiction books too. About the only time I can stand them is in non-fiction work. (But clicking out of the main page sounds especially meh.)

    "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."
    It sounds like the structure of this could either really work or leave you really frustrated. I'm a huge fan of that concept and that he reveals his murder-suicide plan from the start, but the letters from the future part and the distance he has sound kind of frustrating.

    "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." <-- Still, I'm a huge fan of the blurb you've written. You do a good job of selling the book even when it wasn't an emotional read for you.

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  18. This is definitely not my typical book, but just the fact that it was such a puzzle to you might make me read it. I think I might like the footnotes, too. :P

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