Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on August 13, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, YA
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.
Initially, we have no idea what drove Leonard to this decision. Leonard and Asher were best friends when they were younger, but something happened to drive them apart. When we meet Asher, he’s leading his pack of friends in a bullying session of Leonard. It’s only when Leonard loudly threatens to reveal a secret that Asher finally backs off.
It’s pointed out that Leonard’s behavior (giving away prized possessions and changing his appearance by chopping off his hair) are classic signs of someone contemplating suicide. And yet, with one very notable exception, no one questions Leonard, including his clueless and incredibly unlikable mother. Sometimes these bold behaviors are considered a cry for help, but I don’t think that was the case here. Leonard had his plan, and he was merely taking the necessary steps to fulfill it.
For most of the book, Leonard didn’t inspire a lot of compassion in me. Of course, I knew there had to be something awful that could drive him to want to end his life, but at one time in particular, he was so manipulative, and I just didn’t like him at all in that moment. I think that was Quick’s intention, though, and as the reasons for Leonard’s suicide and murder wishes are slowly revealed, I felt terrible for my earlier reaction to him.
This is the first book by Matthew Quick I’ve read, and I now I want to read The Silver Linings Playbook even more.
Review posted at Goodreads.