The author that gave us that warm-puppy of a novel, The Silver Linings Playbook, once again has us malleable putty in his compassionate hands. Quick has proven to be a novelist with some insight into those behaviors that sometimes prevent us from seeing the humanity that lies beneath them. In spite of the straight forward set up (you could almost say manipulative in the nicest way) he has the ability to make us challenge our comfortable conceptions and crank our necks a little harder to get a wider view, and as a reader, that interaction impresses me.
I worked with hundreds of Leonard Peacocks in my profession; kids struggling to communicate beyond their hurt in a world that seems to make no sense to them. My background challenges my objectivity rating this book, but I can say that it is one of the better books I've read describing a particular troubled teen's thought process, so I'll approach this rating from that POV. It does that with sympathy and authenticity, with some excellent insight that has been very responsibly supported by several professionals (noted in the epilogue). On the other hand, I also worked with the kids that were locked up during their therapeutic hospitalization to prevent them from carrying out pure evil -- and that is apples to these oranges. This is not a textbook about personality disorders, or a fictionalized look into the mind of Columbine-like attackers at all. I doubt (I hope) Quick intended this border-line warm-fuzzy book to examine behaviors on that level, and it would be a naïve disservice to lump this into such a category.
This is a heart-touching look at one of those *troubled oddballs*. As Leonard counts down the hours to carrying out what he feels is a necessary catastrophe, his narration reminded me of a similar confused and misplaced childish bravado...
"The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another, his mother called him "WILD THING!" and Max said "I'LL EAT YOU UP!" [Where The Wild Things Are; Maurice Sendak]
There's obvious pain and confusion beneath Leonard Peacock's words.
Reviewer L. Gutzman said he thought this should be required reading--a wonderful sentiment that would makes us all a little more aware and compassionate. This is a great story -- ignore the NY Times glass-half-empty mention of this book making a *social commentary* and just value, maybe even share, the view the story leaves you with. You'll be a wiser and kinder person.