Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Genre: Fiction, High School, Suicide
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Ages: High school
This book hit library and store shelves this week, so I can finally share my review of it with you. I have had a copy of it for months, and I have passed it around to several high schoolers (and adult friends) this summer. Everyone returns it RAVING about it, and this book is also receiving much love and praise from librarians and reviewers alike.
I do want it noted that I was a fan of the author's teen titles LONG before most of you were falling in love with The Silver Linings Playbook. In fact, I've reviewed them here and booktalked them in my conference presentations and webinars. (Click for review: Sorta Like a Rock Star. Turns out Boy21 was only included in my presentations and not here on the blog. But I really liked it...you'll have to trust me).
From the Publisher:
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.
This book takes place over the course of just one day, but we learn so much about Leonard's life. And, like most of Quick's characters, that life has been marred by tragic events. Leonard finds himself on his 18th birthday feeling like there is no hope, and no options except ending all the pain. As he takes you to meet his four friends and hand them their final gifts, readers are hoping that one of these unique people will be able to recognize what is going on and help Leonard, talking him out of his mission and getting him the help that he needs.
Leonard's narration shows humor, self-loathing, and desperation. I think that his story will resonate with teens, especially those that also find themselves stuck in a place that they don't want to be in. Interspersed throughout the narration are Leonard's footnotes to his own story, as well as fictional letters from the future (a class assignment given by Herr Silverman). Quite honestly, it took me some time to get into the flow of the book because of these things, but I think that is because my chemo brain does not do well with distractions these days. But these do enhance the story, especially the letters which offer the hope that if you can just look beyond the pain of now, it will get better.
This is not necessarily a book for everyone, and because of it's themes, it will not be in our library in the fall. But I really think this is a book that should be read, by a wide audience of teens and adults.