Author: Matthew Quick
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Year: 2014
In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I'm sorry I couldn't be more than I was--that I couldn't stick around--and that what's going to happen today isn't their fault.Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday. It is also the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather's P-38 pistol. Maybe one day he'll believe that being different is okay, important even. But not today.
It’s Leonard Peacock’s eighteenth birthday. On that day, he planned to give each of his four friends a gift. Then he planned to kill his former best friend, Asher Beal, with a P-38 WWII Nazi handgun which used to belong to his grandfather. After that, he planned to kill himself.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock has been on my TBR since I learned about the anti-bullying week. It was on the recommended reading list. I also knew that this book deals with mental health and depression. Somehow, I was in the mood to read books about depression. So I picked this book up.
In this book, we have Leonard Peacock as the main character and the narrator. He’s a misunderstood teenager. His father left the family and he feels that his mother doesn’t really care about him, especially after an incident happened. Because of that, he becomes a bitter teenager. He has so much angst in him. Even though this one incident is referenced as the reason why he wants to kill Asher and himself, I don’t think it’s the main contribution to Leonard’s decision. I think because of the incident, Leonard changes the way he sees the world which changes his attitude. So his suicidal thought is the culmination of his attitude or behavior since said incident up until he couldn’t take it anymore, in his case, his 18th birthday. This shows how scary anxiety/ depression can be. It creeps up on you until you couldn’t take it anymore.
I think Leonard Peacock parallels with Holden Caulfield from the Catcher in the Rye. They both are so angsty and they think that they don’t need other people when they actually do. They feel superior to their peers, Leonard calls them ubermorons while Holden refers them as phony. They both are also afraid of change and growing up. In this book, it is reflected in Leonard Peacock’s ‘social experiment’ in which he pretends to be an adult, then stalks and observes one hoping that he’ll find out if growing up is worth it. Leonard picks his 18th birthday as his suicide day, which is the age where people are considered as adults in USA.
I like how even though Leonard doesn’t have perfect parents, he at least has one teacher who cares enough to save him. It’s true that parents are supposed to be one who support their children, but teachers are important in children’s life too because they spend most of their time at school. I also like that this teacher, Herr Silverman, suggested Leonard to write letters from the future which hopefully will save him.
The story itself is being told alternatively from present time and a series of flashbacks. As we follow Leonard giving gifts to his friends, he’s reminiscing on how he met these friends and how they change his life. It’s bittersweet and touching. You can feel how he craves for connection with other people, but often fails to get that. When these people reaching back to him, he subconsciously alienates them thinking that he’s probably not good enough. It’s heartbreaking, really.
I believe the ending is not the type of ending that most people would like to read. It’s an open ending, inconclusive, and doesn’t give a clue or suggestion as to where it might go in the future. But I personally love it, because again, it shows that depression is a constant struggle and you have to keep fighting it. All in all, I recommend reading this book, unless you’ve had bad experience with the Catcher in the Rye. They both have similar narrator. If you hate reading Holden Caulfield, I’m afraid you’re going to hate Leonard Peacock too. Nevertheless, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock tells an important story which more people should be aware of.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.