Thursday, January 23, 2014

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock: A review

Author: Matthew Quick
Info: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, copyright 2013, 273 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Today is the day for Leonard Peacock.  A beginning and an end.

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.

~Goodreads Description~

I've been sitting at this computer screen for about a half hour trying to figure out how I feel about Leonard Peacock.  I keep hoping that a review will come to me, that words would flow from my head into my fingers and onto the screen, but I'm stuck.

On one hand, this was an excellent book, a potentially important book.  A resource for teens who might have lost their way and who are planning for the worst.  Leonard has been failed by his parents and friends. Except for an elderly neighbor lost in the world of cinema and a rather brilliant teacher at school, he is all alone and attempting to deal with an ugly past that has brought him to this moment...this day.  

On the other hand there's the ending, which I won't give away here, but it left me terribly unsatisfied.  And angry.  The thing is, I liked Leonard Peacock.  Aside from his suicidal, murderous plans, Leonard's a smart kid, a kid with heart who questions the world and looks for intelligent answers.  And he reminds me way too much of the teens who walk through my door every day at work.  My life experiences cloud my judgement of contemporary fiction.  Leonard Peacock could be any teen I talk to on a daily basis.  He could be any teen who comes to the library straight after school and stays for hours just so he doesn't have to go home.

So much like Eleanor & Park, I can't like this well-written, heart-wrenching, at the edge of your seat book, but I can hope that teens who need the promise of possibility find it.

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