Unconventional Book Draws Attention to Mental Illness

Chilling yet warm; hopeless yet hopeful. This book provides a unique insight into the psyche of someone who believes he has no other choice.


Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Chloe Koulefianou, Features Editor

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick is a suspenseful novel that sheds a light on issues like depression and abuse in an unconventional but effective manner.

It’s Leonard Peacock’s 18th birthday. No blow-out party. No dinner with family. His plan is to give presents to the only four people in his life that mean something to him, kill his former best friend, Asher Beal, and then kill himself.

This book sounds morbid, sure, but it provides a unique insight into the psyche of someone who believes he has no other choice. It is both chilling yet warm, hopeless yet hopeful, in a way that only Matthew Quick, author of the Silver Linings Playbook, can capture. The way Leonard explains his thoughts and emotions makes me as the reader understand him more as a desperate individual rather than a twisted murderer.

Leonard lives an unusual life. His father is an ex-rock star who fled the country to avoid his taxes and enormous debt due to gambling and drugs. His absent mother left him in New Jersey to pursue her fashion career in Manhattan with her French boyfriend, only coming back to see her son on occasional weekends. His favorite class is his Holocaust class, where his controversial opinions leave him the object of speculation and secret ridicule amongst many of his classmates.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock switches between the point of view of his 18-year-old self, and letters from people who love and care about him from 20 years in the future. These letters shed a rosy, refreshing light on what is an otherwise morbid storyline. Even though the letters are set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian society, the life Leonard lives in them is exceptionally more appealing than the life he is currently living, which says a lot about his current state of well-being.

The book is mostly set up in long and convoluted flashbacks. Throughout the book, Leonard is constantly doing, thinking, or saying something that would be considered particularly eccentric and then backtracking for an entire chapter’s length to explain his actions. This was perplexing at first because at times I wasn’t quite sure about whether I was still reading a recollection or if the narrator had already returned to the story line. However, I began to appreciate this format because there was no other way to explain the events that preceded the current timeline. The flashbacks needed to be complex because Leonard has a complex history and he needed to convey that to his audience in order for his story to be complete.

I would recommend this book to everyone, especially people who are still close minded about mental illness and people living with mental illnesses who may feel like they’re headed towards their last resort. This book made me really think about what other people may be going through and how not everyone thinks the same way. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was not your typical book about how a loner loses it at school. Leonard was not perfect or justified or even sane in the slightest. He was just a teenage boy at the end of his rope. He had his likes and dislikes, his friends and countless enemies. “Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock” was a raw homage to the loss of innocence and trust and a testimonial to the fact that not being perfect, is sometimes good enough.