Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
No one remembers Leonard’s 18th birthday, not even his mother who is busy with her new French boyfriend in New York City. Leonard has big birthday plans. He has presents for four of his closest friends. He also has a present for his ex best friend, a bullet. Specifically, a bullet right in his face. Then Leonard will finish his birthday night by killing himself too. First though, Leonard has to hand out his presents. There is one for Walt, his next-door neighbor with whom Walt watches Bogart movies. One for Lauren, the Christian homeschooler who tried to convert Leonard but only got him to lust after her more. One for Baback, the gifted violinist whose practice sessions Leonard finds solace in. And finally, one for Herr Silverman, the only teacher Leonard finds inspiring at all. The story takes place all in one day filled with tension, hope and honesty.
Quick has created such a great character in Leonard. Leonard is often arrogant, violently depressed, isolated, completely lonely, and yet infinitely human as well. While he looks down on his classmates and most of his teachers, as his motivation is slowly revealed to the reader, it all makes sense. Leonard is a puzzle that the reader gets to solve, and yet he remains complicated still.
A book like this can be so dark there is not even a glimmer of light, but Quick shines light throughout if you are watching for it. By the end of the book, you know that Leonard can be alright, if he just allows himself to believe it. Quick has also written a great character who is a testimony to the role of teachers in teens’ lives. Herr Silverman puts his own career in jeopardy to help Leonard, making him a hero in every sense of the word. He is selfless and courageous, and it is clear from the first time he enters the book that he will either save Leonard or Leonard is beyond saving entirely.
Harrowing, frightening and astonishingly hopeful, this book is a strong and passionate look at a boy willing to destroy everything, especially himself. Appropriate for ages 14-17.
Reviewed from ARC received from Little, Brown.