Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock – Book Review

Author: Matthew Quick 
Published: January 2014 by Headline Book Publishing

Leonard Peacock is turning 18.
And he wants to say goodbye.

Not to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing something tragic and horrific.

Nor to his mum who’s moved out and left him to fend form himself. But to his four friends.
A Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour
A teenage violin virtuoso
A pastor’s daughter
A teacher

Most of the time, Leonard believes he’s weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he’s not.

He wants to thank them, and bid them farewell.

matthewquick-forgivemeleonardpeacockI’ve read a lot of books about depression and suicide. I have had Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder) for most of my adult life (and probably most of my young adult life, undiagnosed) and find that I can relate well to these characters, draw from their experiences and relate them back to mine, learn from them, grow with them etc, etc, etc. But this book was more than that to me. Unlike All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, in which one of the main characters does, after much fighting against it, eventually kill himself; Leonard, is so adamant to let it consume him and end his life, and he doesn’t fight it. Leonard has accepted his fate, his doom, his demise. And he is content with it, not accepting that anyone can actually help him, regardless of whether he wants them to save him or not. Leonard’s story is about goodbye, not about battling his inner demons; Leonard’s demons have, seemingly, already won.

And that’s one of the things I really like about this book. The gritty, harsh reality of it. Because a lot of the time, (especially at that age, when the bigger picture is so very difficult to see,) giving up is the easiest option. Giving in to the desire, the burning ache, to just end everything and be done with it, is real. Leonard is a little quirky, as most male protagonists in YA lit are these days, but I like his quirks, they’re subtle and cool and even though he doesn’t seem to fit in in his shitty high school, he’d certainly feel at home in college or university. He’s smart, but he is humble. I really liked Leonard’s character.

What I loved secondly about this book, was it’s ability to keep what happened between Leonard and Asher – likely the catalyst for Leonard’s depression – under wraps until Leonard actually allowed himself to think about. Leonard had hidden it away in the deepest, darkest recesses of his mind, and did not want to think about it, and so the reader didn’t get to know about it either. The information on each character that Leonard was saying goodbye to came when, and if, it was needed.

tumblr_ms5g74snHw1rkciaro1_500I also loved, wholeheartedly, the mix of non-traditional prose in this novel. There are three main prose forms in this book: the main traditional prose through which Leonard’s story is told, footnotes to the story to add in after thoughts, additional information and anecdotes that Leonard feels the reader ought to know or to give context, and lastly the letters that Leonard writes ‘from the future’ to his teenage self. This kept the book interesting, even if the letters don’t make sense at first.

The characters, as few of them as there are, also helped to keep this book interesting. Actually, not even really the characters themselves, more the stories behind the way each character was connected to Leonard, and the thoughts that Leonard has about them, how he feels about them, and the ideas he conjures in his own imagination about each one.Herr Silverman was the one I definitely found the most interesting, the way he actually cares about Leonard, ad in a way that Leonard doesn’t even understand. In the end, even though he only kind of admits it, Leonard is glad that there was at least one person, one adult that he could turn to, talk to, and who might even be able to save him. The way Leonard sees Herr Silverman instills in the reader that eternal little blip of hope, that maybe they really aren’t completely alone. And this little blip of hope is IMPORTANT, it sends a great message to anyone that might relate closely with Leonard and his view of the world. The true, gritty insight into Leonards mind is exceedingly well written, engaging and honest, and I LOVED it. I’m sincerely looking forward to picking up more books by Matthew Quick!

Again, I have to say: It’s important to reach out for help if you think you might be suffering from depression, sometimes this is the hardest step to recovery. If you don’t feel like you can talk to anyone in your life, sometimes an anonymous ear to listen can go a long way, contacting a counselling service can save a life, or even just someone online who understands what you’re going through (yes, this is an invitation to email me if you ever need to talk to someone). Check out Beyond Blue for more information on battling depression, or suicidal thoughts.

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Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A Book that Became a Movie (t’s not a movie yet, but a movie is in the works)

Images via: Here, here, here,

Begin Again

So, sometimes you make a big decision, and it just doesn’t work out. What can you do but pick yourself back up, compile a new plan and start again? Because life doesn’t stop, and you’ll still turn thirty.

Well that’s exactly what I did at the beginning of last year, at twenty-eight and after two failed months in London, with no job and no relationship – having given everything up to chase a dream, and giving what I chased up to come back home. Starting fresh was hard, but it has been so so rewarding.

I could have taken the easy road and gone back to my old job for security, but I didn’t want that, I didn’t want to go back to that old life, I needed something new, I needed to find something that fit the ‘new me’. Not that I had changed, but I had gotten older and I had purposely left that part of my life behind, it was my past and that’s where I needed it to stay. So when I accidentally stumbled into my new job, and it started building itself into a career, things just felt right. And everything else just started to fall into place too. And I was happy.

I now have an amazing, supportive, fun group of friends, some old, some new, who I love like my own family. I have a strong sense of who I am and where I’m going. I have control over my life, I’m getting fit and healthy and staying positive – I’m so much happier and no where near as angry as I have been known to be in the past. And I have the most wonderful and supportive boyfriend I could ever ask for, who loves me for me, flaws, anger annoyingness and all. Things really have just fallen into place, and I guess, even with a few things still a bit up in the air, and a couple things I still need to achieve (like getting my book published, travelling more and meeting at least one of my idols) I find myself in a pretty fantastic place for a woman about to turn thirty.

I think the three most important things that I have learnt this year that have helped me reach a place of such solid contentedness, would be the following:

1. The past really is the past, leaving it there and moving forward is the key to staying sane and being really happy. Deal with it if you need to, face it, write about it, talk about it, get it out, whatever you need to do – then stop talking about it, writing about it and thinking about it and move on. Done.

2.Be yourself and don’t give a stuff what anyone that doesn’t matter thinks. You are you and you’ve worked long and hard to get here. Do the things that make you happy and be proud of them, don’t let anyone dictate what you should or shouldn’t like or listen to or play or watch. I am still the biggest nerd, I still play Pokemon, xbox, playstation; I still listen to Taylor Swift and love her very dearly. I’ve grown a lot in the past year and learnt new things and have new views, but they are also a part of who I am and nothing anyone says will change that. If it doesn’t make you happy, leave it behind.

3. Exercise, healthy eating and good sleep make you feel more energised and happier.
No seriously, for a year and a half I have proved this to myself time and time again when I relapse into bad eating and, in turn, crappy sleeping.
Be healthy. Seriously. It feels better.

I love the person I am today. And I love how happy I am. So all-in-all, I’m really not worried about turning thirty, because I feel like my life is exactly where it should be.