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Children's Literature Reviews
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Forgive me, Leonard Peacock : a novel
by Matthew Quick.

273 pages ; 22 cm
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Annotations:

A day in the life of a suicidal teen boy saying good-bye to the four people who matter most to him.

Best Books:

Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2014 ; American Library Association; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, June 24, 2013 ; Cahners; United States
YALSA Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, 2014 ; American Library Association; United States

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Tayshas High School Reading List, 2014 ; Texas

Reading Measurement Programs:


Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
Lexile Measure 980L

Reviews:

Daniel Kraus (Booklist, Aug. 1, 2013 (Vol. 109, No. 22))
It’s Leonard’s eighteenth birthday and, big surprise, nobody remembered. This birthday, however, is going to count—because Leonard plans to shoot cruel bully (and former best friend) Asher Beal after school. First, though, there is the small matter of gift giving, in which Leonard delivers four presents to the four people who made his “worthless” life a little better: a noir film–loving neighbor, a violin prodigy classmate, a superhot teen evangelist, and his favorite teacher. The single-day time frame provides a good deal of claustrophobic tension, as readers will hope against hope that one of these four people will be able to deflect Leonard from his mission. But this is far from a thriller; Quick is most interested in Leonard’s psychology, which is simultaneously clear and splintered, and his voice, which is filled with brash humor, self-loathing, and bucket loads of refreshingly messy contradictions, many communicated through Leonard’s footnotes to his own story. It may sound bleak, but it is, in fact, quite brave, and Leonard’s interspersed fictional notes to himself from 2032 add a unique flavor of hope. Grades 8-11

Claudia Mills, Ph.D. (Children's Literature)
We learn Leonard Peacock’s plan for his 18th birthday on page two of this riveting novel: He intends to kill his former best friend and then kill himself. The rest of the book details Leonard’s final day. He gives farewell gifts to the four people who have meant most to him, including a chain-smoking, racist, elderly neighbor with whom he watches Humphrey Bogart movies; a girl who hands out Christian tracts in the train station; a gifted violinist classmate of Iranian descent; and the caring teacher of his Holocaust class. Along the way, we discover why Leonard hates his targeted victim and why he thinks his own life is not worth living. The extraordinarily intelligent and candid first-person narration is strongly reminiscent of J. D. Salinger; the events of the story are what might have happened if Holden Caulfield had attended a soul-deadening suburban high school rather than phony Pencey Prep, and if he had the P-38 WWII Nazi handgun of a dead grandfather concealed upon him. Readers will turn the pages to find out whether Leonard goes through with his horrific plan, but Leonard’s wry, quirky, heartbreaking reflections on life and death that will make them want to read on. Although Leonard’s mother is a disappointingly over-the-top cliché of a bad mom, Matthew Quick (Silver Linings Playbook) has delivered a stunning, wrenching portrait of a fascinating young man on what may be the last day of his life. 2013, Little Brown and Company/Hachette,, $18.00. Ages 12 up.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2013 (Vol. 81, No. 12))
A teen boy with a World War II pistol in hand is bent on murder and suicide. Leonard Peacock has big plans for his birthday: He's cut his longish hair down to the scalp, wrapped some going-away presents for his friends and tucked his grandfather's souvenir Nazi-issue P-38 pistol into his backpack. He's off to school, but he plans to make some pit stops along the way to see his friends, including his elderly, Bogart-obsessed neighbor. After he gives his gifts away, he'll murder Asher Beal, another boy at school. Then he'll off himself. To say Quick's latest is dark would be an understatement: Leonard is dealing with some serious issues and comes across as a resolutely heartless killer in the first few pages. As the novel progresses and readers learn more, however, his human side and heart rise to the surface and tug at readers' heartstrings. The work has its quirks. Footnotes run amok, often telling more story than the actual narrative, and some are so long that readers might forget what's happening in the story as they read the footnote. Some readers will eat this up, but others will find it endlessly distracting. Other structural oddities include letters written by Leonard to himself from the future; they seem to make no sense at first, but readers find out later that his teacher recommended he write them to cope with his depression. Despite these eccentricities, the novel presents a host of compelling, well-drawn, realistic characters--all of whom want Leonard to make it through the day safe and sound. An artful, hopeful exploration of a teen boy in intense need. 2013, Little, Brown, 288 pp., $17.99. Category: Fiction. Ages 14 up. © 2013 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Quick's books typically revolve around characters who don't fit in, don't understand their place in the world, and face daunting obstacles. Leonard Peacock is another such individual, a teenager who feels let down by adults and out of step with his sheeplike classmates. Foreseeing only more unhappiness and disappointment in life (and harboring a secret that's destroying him), Leonard packs up his grandfather's WWII handgun and heads to school, intending to kill his former best friend and then himself. First, though, he will visit the important people in his life: an elderly cinephile neighbor, a musically gifted classmate, the teacher of his Holocaust studies class, and a homeschooled girl who passes out religious tracts in the train station. Quick's attentiveness to these few key relationships and encounters gives the story its strength and razorlike focus. Its greatest irony is that, despite Leonard's commitment to his murder-suicide plan, he appreciates and values life in a way that few do. Through Leonard, Quick urges readers to look beyond the pain of the here and now to the possibilities that await. Ages 15–up. Agent: Douglas Stewart, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Aug.)

Karen Coats (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, October 2013 (Vol. 67, No. 2))
Not only can Leonard Peacock recite most of Hamlet, in many ways, he is Hamlet, and he has decided that today is the day when he will answer the ultimate question of to be or not to by killing himself (and his former best friend). His only remaining friend is an older neighbor with whom he watches Bogart movies, but he has also formed one-sided attachments to an Iranian immigrant in his high school who allows him to listen to him play violin as long as he doesn’t talk to him, a fundamentalist Christian girl who hands out tracts at the subway station, and his history teacher, Herr Silverman, who hides a secret under his sleeve. These are the people Leonard wants to interact with on his last day on earth, but as each encounter leads him closer to his fatal plans, he realizes that he can’t orchestrate the day as elegantly as he’d like, and his disappointments lead to reflections, both comforting and tragic, on what brought him to this day. Leonard’s story is in some measure predictable for the genre, with intemperate swipes at a caricatured Christianity and a home situation that begs intervention from social services, but his narrative voice is utterly convincing, and his letters to himself from the future, an assignment Herr Silverman has devised to help him realize that a future is possible, are an effective intervention. Hamlet may be Leonard’s muse, but Holden Caulfield is his mentor; he’s a bright, articulate, thoughtful, deeply sad young man in desperate need of adults for whom life is actually working even when it’s difficult. Fortunately, he has two—Herr Silverman and his neighbor—who provide very different kinds of support in this compelling reminder that there’s an adult light at the end of the teenaged tunnel. Review Code: R -- Recommended. (c) Copyright 2006, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2013, Little, 278p.; Reviewed from galleys, $17.99. Grades 7-10.

Deena Viviani (VOYA, August 2013 (Vol. 36, No. 3))
Leonard Peacock hopes that on the day he turns eighteen, his mother will call and wish him a happy birthday. She does not, and no one else does either, so Leonard moves forward with his plan for the day: to kill his former best friend, Asher Beal, and then himself with his grandfather’s P-38 Nazi pistol. Before he does the deed, he brings gifts to the four people in his life who give it meaning, and slowly reveals the secrets that have brought him to this point. Leonard never stops hoping that someone or something will make him change his mind about his murder-suicide path and that he will be able to be happy. The first couple chapters leave the reader wondering if Leonard is a likable or redeemable character. The first two “Letters from the Future” leave the reader slightly confused. But soon after, the pieces of Leonard’s life come together and his sympathetic points are clear. Quick’s writing is of a high caliber, every word has a purpose, and the ending is both heartbreaking and hopeful. The swearing, discussion of rape, and Leonard’s violent plans make this a heavy read for many teen readers, but those who need a healthy way to address these topics or are mature enough to handle them will find this a quality read. VOYA CODES: 5Q 3P S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2013, Little, Brown, 288p., $18. Ages 15 to 18.

Subjects:

Suicide Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.Q3185 Fo 2013
2012031410 [Fic]
9780316221337
0316221333
9780316221337
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