Audie Award Finalist, Teens, 2014
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 audiobook, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made - and the light in us all that never goes out.
©2013 Matthew Quick (P)2013 Hachette Audio
This is a beautiful, gut-wrenching book. It's wonderfully written and very well performed. It's a first person narrative, and so successfully performed that I have no trouble believing that I've been listening to Leonard Peacock himself reading his story, backed up by the other characters who speak through him.
First, the story: I've never read anything by Matthew Quick before. In fact, I wouldn't normally even try a story about a suicidal (and possibly homicidal) teenager. But Quick's writing is full of honesty, clarity, poetry and humanity, and the character of Leonard is so well drawn and interesting that I found myself not wanting him to kill himself because the world needs people like Leonard Peacock in it; and I want to meet Leonard and know him.
And now I'm wondering if the paragraph I just wrote will look good in my college application. (Read the book and you'll know why I said that.)
Because just for the record ... and for my college application ... I wouldn't have wanted him to commit suicide even if he was a spectacularly unlikeable person.
Everything in the story is emotionally real, for good and ill. Quick is obviously an insightful and empathetic observer of people. His writing is full of compassion, but never glides over the messy bits, even when part of me wanted him to.
Second, the narration: Just absolutely perfect. The different voices are distinguished nicely, with each character (male and female) given distinctiveness and believability but without sounding forced or like caricatures. But mostly, the voice is Leonard's, and it's completely believable and good to listen to. Even if Noah Galvin is a middle-aged, cigar-chomping rodeo announcer in real life, to me he will forever be a teenage boy from New Jersey.
Finally, the recommendation: Read the book (well, listen to the book). You'll laugh. You'll cry. You may have to stop to write down a few words and phrases (I did), or to look up a few historical facts (Walt Disney was a Nazi sympathizer, who knew?) And if you're paying any attention at all to what's going on in Leonard's head, you'll be a better person when you're done.
Oh, and you may feel the urge to watch Casablanca a few times as well.
I think this book should be mandatory reading for ALL high school students. I was Leonard Peacock. If I read this book back when I was in school giong through all of the nonsense that kids go through this book could have saved me. I loved loved loved this book. It's an excellent read for bully's and the kids that suffer from being bullied alike. I highly recommend this book. It's mostly just an incredibly inspiring story of never giving up hope, because things really do get better.
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.
Yes, I plan on it. There is such good writing and the thoughts expressed by Leonard Peacock are in many parts brilliant, that I want to hear them again.
Every character in the story is memorable. I started listening to the book on a short walk which ended up becoming a long, long walk just so I could continue listening to the story. When I got back home from the walk I kept the audible book on and listened to it until it was finished. It really is one of only a few books I just could not stop listening too / reading.
No, but he couldn't have been more perfect for the performance. He was the 18 year old Leonard Peacock.
Don't screw it up like Silver Linings (yes, the movie received many awards, but if one looked at it objectively, it was absurd).
For those who might be put off by the dark drama that it is, don't be. There's enough wit to get through that part and the journey is very, very rewarding.
Tell me about a good book. No other gifts necessary.
I cried. And I actually found myself shouting out loud. That's how compelling this book is. All of the other reviewers have eloquently reported what an astounding book this is and the 5 star ratings are absolutely deserved. (If only we could give 6.) This author and the narrator are new revelations to me. What a gift. Do not pass up this book.
i don't re-listen to any books, as a rule. but i might do just that at some point.
it was just captivating.
he MADE the listen! one of the best narrations i've heard.
i didn't want it to end.
What can I say about this novel? Completely moving. It was everything I had hoped for in a book. Detailing the psyche of a tormented young man, Matthew Quick addresses what few people in this country do. It truly sheds light on a lot of systems in this country - like the mental health system, school systems, familial relationships, etc. This needs to be a book that every young adult reads - so that they know that they are not alone in their feelings and emotions; and also to shed light on the consequences of our interactions with one another, especially during the critical developing years of our lives. Kudos to Matthew Quick! And to all of you Leonard Peacock's out there - we have heard you!
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (teenage fiction) - Leonard Peacock plans to shoot himself today, after he says goodbye to four people who are very important to him. You will be "in the head" of this troubled teen as he goes to school that last day, his 18th birthday, with a gun in his backpack. You will learn what's important to him and what isn't, who he loves and who he hates, and ultimately why he's planning to take his own life. Throughout the day Leonard (who's very intelligent) talks about Hamlet, Humphrey Bogart, the Holocaust, atheism, his first kiss, same-sex relations and why he wants to shoot his ex-best friend before turning the gun on himself.
This book was beautifully written. You will feel sorry for Leonard, but at the same time you will root for him to see and embrace his own strengths. The day you spend inside Leonard's head is not overdramatized or predictable. To the contrary, it feels very real. (The author gives credit to multiple mental health professionals who reviewed the book for authenticity). In the end the message is clear: Never lose sight of the light. Things will get better!
PERFORMANCE - I don't know how old this narrator was, but he did a great job of performing the complex feelings and emotions of 18-year-old Leonard Peacock. Other characters were performed equally as well.
OVERALL - I'd recommend this book to all males/females high school age and older. Teachers, parents, students, kids who are picked on or depressed, class bullies -- there's something for everyone to learn here. Some sexual situations are described, and there is some cursing.
Country life, raising plants, hard working, love reading, wishing I had more time to read, aging, soon will have more time to read.
Brilliant Troubled Youth
Leonard's elderly friend, Walt, watches Bogart movies endlessly. Leonard enjoys watching them with Walt and they develop a secret coded language made up entirely of quotes from Bogart movies. Leonard has a similar acquaintance with Shakespeare.
No, I haven't. And I worry that his voice will be forever linked to this amazing character. He is extraordinary; versatile, clear, good pacing, and - given this amazing text - full of surprises; twists and turns.
Yes. I had to make a long drive up the California central coast and actually pulled over at Bean Hollow Beach to lengthen the trip. It was at that moment that the gun jammed or refused to fire. Spellbinding.
I suspect that I am not the target audience for this book. I am late middle age, female, and have no children. Regardless. The character is fascinating, fresh, surprising at every turn, sympathetic, lovely actually. I think Herr Silverman's suggestions to write letters from the future is a thoughtful exercise and, in this case, life saving. Loved the book and the reader.
One of the authors that has stuck with me is the late Stephen Covey, hence the headline of my review. Why quote Covey for the headline of this review? Because the quote points to the healing process available to the young man--yes man--who is the title character. He doesn't know it, but he has grown up in spite of his parents and himself. Bravo! We were pulling for you.
My heart pounded through most of the book and not because I was walking around the block fifteen times to get my exercise in for the day. The author captured the vacated, self-centered suburban emotional landscape of many teenager's lives--too old to be latch-key kids but too emotionally unstable to root themselves into a healthy rhythm of self-discovery and respect.
There's one scene where there's an intersection between the young and vulnerable and the old and cynical. Which wins out? I'll only say that they both had the adage "begin with the end in mind." I was surprised by both the teenager's and the infirmed old man's response to what was a life-threatening situation.
Tagline for a movie of this book: Why it was foolishly ignorant for the city of Philadelphia--and the state of California and so many other cities and town--to lay off school counselors as if we don't need them for kids who are emotionally abandoned.
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