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)

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Five Books I’m Really Looking Forward to Reading

I have a book addiction. Seriously, I can’t go into a bookstore without buying books, and I go into bookstores a lot. Ergo, I have a lot of books sitting on my shelves at the moment that are still waiting to be read. But they look so pretty, sitting there, waiting.

There are well over two dozen books sitting on my To Be Read (TBR) list at the moment, but here are the top five on that list that I can’t wait to read:

(Hover over the titles/authors for links to more information)

1. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

matthewquick-forgivemeleonardpeacockI know very little about this book, and that’s partially why I’m so excited to read it. I suppose, I tend to love any book that tackles the taboo. Such as I loved Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, or even Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, this book also tackles those ever taboo issues in high school. I haven’t read any other of Matthew Quick’s books, but I saw the film of Silver Linings Playbook and that book is also on my TBR list, and hopefully this book lives up to the awesome reviews I’ve seen so far, none of which, thankfully, have given away any of the plot.

2. Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

kc-packshotI originally picked this book up based on the gorgeous bird prints on the outer page edges, they are simply stunning. Then I read the blurb – Secrets, romance, murder and lies: Zoe shares a terrible secret in a letter to a stranger on death row. I mean, doesn’t that just seem to hook you in right away? Also – I love books that are written, or stories that are told, in non-traditional prose, so letter writing is right up my alley. A novel centred around a 15 year-old and her complicated grasp of live and emotion, this novel is certainly one that I am likely going to devour in a matter of hours.

3. Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy

22456952Now, to be one hundred percent honest with you, this was predminately a ‘cover buy’, although I had technically decided that I wanted to read it before I actually purchased it. I saw it on @blueyedbiblo‘s instagram feed and the cover was just gorgeous and the title equally as intriguing.  On top of that, this book is written entirely in lists. Yes, lists. Something I adore, use a lot in my day to day life and tend to be drawn to, particularly when scouring social media (think, ’20 things all girls who wear glasses know to be true’ etc.). So another non-traditional prose based novel full of teen angst I simply can’t wait to dive head first into.

4. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

book-coverAnother book written in letters. It seems I can’t help myself when it comes to these types of books. This book sees our protagonist writing a letter, first off, as a school project, to someone who has died, and Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain. This is admittedly one of the main reasons I want to read this book, because I am old enough to have been into Nirvana just after Kurt took his own life, so I remember actually hearing about it and coming to terms with that as a pre-teen. Death is always a hard subject to write about, and grief is even harder because we all experience it so differently. This book was going to be my first to read in May, but my copy got really badly damaged in a rainstorm not long ago, and my new copy came today, can’t wait.

5. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

The-Shock-Of-The-Fall-coverIt was the blurb of this book that made me carry it away from the shelf and up to the counter to part with my hard earned cash. The blurb consists of a simple quote in a childlike voice: “I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.” And that was it, that’s what grabbed me. But another book about mental illness is something that I know will grab my attention, because it hits so close to home. This book has had a lot of great reviews, and seems like it’s gonna be another brilliant read.

Keep your eyes peeled for reviews of these books on my review page as I read them. You an also keep up to date on what I’m currently reading, if you feel so inclined, by following more of my book adventures on Instagram (@felixturtle_reads) and on Goodreads (felixturtle).

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All the Bright Places, Book Review

Author: Jennifer Niven
Published: January 6th 2015 by Knopf

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground—it’s unclear who saves whom. For fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park, this is an exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die…

 

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. 

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

I have to be honest, This book took me longer to read than the few I read before it. But I’m glad I persevered, very glad. This book gave a true glimpse into depression, the horribly crippling side effect of Bipolar Disorder. And by the time I finished, I had really enjoyed it.

All-the-Bright-Places-450x645

The novel starts out a little differently, with the two protagonists meeting in the clock tower of their school, contemplating suicide. After this unusual, and uncomfortable beginning, the two take a while to become friends, and eventually more, and this was the part of the book I found a little slow. But as I mentioned, I’m glad I pushed through, because as the two become closer, Violet gets more of a look into Finch’s mind while he begins to slowly fall apart. But I’ll get to Finch later, because for me, he made this book.

Violet Markey has her own demons that she is dealing with. Almost a year ago, her older sister died in a car accident while driving them home from a party. She used to be in with the popular kids, and now she just wants to keep her head down and get to graduation. But then she meets Finch. Finch, over time, pulls violet out of her funk, out of her shell and out into the world. Once again, Violet slowly starts to be excited about things again, and starts to write again, and even starts to drive again. And she, of course, falls in love with Theodore Finch. The thing I love most about Violet is her love of writing, which she has lost, but starts to find again throughout the novel. She used to work on a website with her sister, eleanorandviolet.com, and she later starts up a new project, an online magazine she names Germ, both of which exist and you can visit online. I adore when authors create extra content and avenues for their fans to explore the book.

bright placesTheodore Finch is troubled. He contemplates death, he wanders aimlessly, and he doesn’t really care what people think. Except that he does. He has periods of ‘the Asleep’ – where he can not function, or perform normal day to day tasks, while depression is not spoken about obviously or openly in the book as much as suicide, it is clear that this is what Finch is suffering from. He likely has Bipolar Disorder, suffering his manic periods alongside mania with his excitement about being with Violet, and the uphoria he feels when they are together. The thing about Finch that drew me in – as much as he may just be another quirky, not-fitting-in, rebellious teenage boy – is that I understand him. I have Bipolar Disorder and have struggled, predominately when I was a teenager, with depression and with thoughts of suicide. The way Niven voices Finch, the way he talks about how it feels, even the way Violet observes his behaviour, is how it is when you just don’t fit in the world situation you are living in. When you don’t fit in your body, you don’t fit in the world, you don’t fit anywhere and it’s completely debilitating.

Jennifer Niven beautifully captures the tragic, overbearing, often unnoticed struggle of depression and suicide, for those struggling to avoid it and those struggling to pick up the pieces upon being left behind. I genuinely recommend this book to all ages, as mental illness can strike at any stage in life, and it should not be taboo, we should be able to talk about it, not have to keep it inside.

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. Check out Beyond Blue for more information in battling depression, or suicidal thoughts.

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Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A book by an author I’ve never read before

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