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.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is heartbreaking from the start. The writing is angsty and, at times, downright depressing. Leonard is initially a difficult character to empathize with, though your heart will certainly break for him as he hands out gifts his four gifts and reveals bit by bit what led to this decision.
The story is slow to build, showing us just how intelligent Leonard is – and how different from his peers. He has an immense feeling of loneliness and is desperate to see that the future holds happiness and something truly good. This desperation is perpetuated by the unhappiness of the adults in his life: his absentee father with drug and alcohol problems, his mother who prefers working to spending time with her child, and the adults that he sees on the train who are headed to work and dislike their jobs.
Through the relationships that Leonard does have – his favourite teacher, his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed neighbour, a violinist at his school, and the pastor’s daughter that he met at the train station – we’re shown a different side of him. One that might just have a reason to keep on living. I particularly loved his relationship with Herr Silverman, as he’s the kind of teacher that every teen should have.
This story is interspersed with letters from the future that Leonard had written to himself. While this shift in perspective threw me off at first, I quickly grew to love the idea – and the feeling of hope that it brought.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a powerful and important book that everyone should read. I have a feeling that it will stay with me for quite a while.
Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.