Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

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It’s the term break and I am currently trying to read all of books I recently bought from MIBF. Ever since I finished Silver Linings Playbook, I have been drawn to the troubled yet interesting characters written by Matthew Quick. I can’t say I am a fan of his work but I just like the way he writes, and I remember during the Q&A when a member of the audience asked about Leonard Peacock. The name itself was interesting and it also got me interested in the book as well. What I didn’t realize when I turned the book on its first page was how painful the story would be. It was obvious that I was stepping into a dangerous path that would bring me to the dark recesses of Leonard Peacock’s mind.

Who is Leonard Peacock? He is a 17 year old boy who loves Humphrey Bogart movies because of his next door neighbor Walt, has a love-hate relationship with Lauren, a bible thumping, Christian pamphlet carrying girl who reminds him strongly of Lauren Bacall; and is deeply interested in Herr Silverman’s Holocaust class. He sounds like an ordinary character to you and me but he has a secret, he is going to give away three gifts to three people and using the Walther P-38 he inherited from his grandfather, he is going to kill his friend Asher Beale and turn the gun on himself and say good bye to the world that does not care for him.
Typically I would stop right there, put the book down and say this isn’t a book worth reading. Why? Well its scary considering this is happening to students in the US. Stories of students bringing guns to school and offing classmates and themselves because they were misunderstood made me think long and hard why I never want to work abroad. Besides that, it was just scary reading the thoughts of a suicidal teenager, here and there his thoughts would talk about his motive for killing himself. How for the longest time he has been ostracized because people find him weird or different. For most of his teenage years Leonard would grapple with self-identity issues and that endless need to belong but at the same time standout, challenge the norm but still find himself in a world that does not understand him.
As the novel unravels there would be light and beautiful moments in the story, how he writes letters to himself pretending to be his older self in the future. His attempts at finding love and happiness with Lauren, the inspiration he gets from hearing his Iranian friend, Baback play the violin; and the beautiful existentialist questions posed by Herr Silverman during his Holocaust class that really challenges the way he sees the world. These moments are poignant and make you wonder that these characters themselves are no less different than Leonard, they all have their own troubles and insecurities but they each try and find a sense of purpose in a world that is generally unkind and mean.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock may be a book about suicide and the challenges of teens today but it is also about trying to find happiness in beauty in everyday life. Looking beyond the day to day stresses and just taking a breather, to sit back, relax and find a whole new angle in life.
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