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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Review

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday, and he is planning on killing his former best friend and then himself. No questions asked.

Though, Leonard is not totally heartless. At least, he would probably say that he’s not. This is evidenced by the fact that before Leonard can go through with his plan to rid the world of evil and sadness, he decides to say goodbye to the few number of people that he actually cares about and feels that care about him. First up is his old next-door neighbor, Walt, who introduced Leonard to the classic styles of Humphrey Bogart. Walt and Leonard basically use lines from Bogart movies to communicate, and while Leonard has on more than one occasion skipped school to watch Bogart all day, this particular day is devoted to the death of Leonard’s former best friend. So with a parting gift and line from Bogart, Leonard says goodbye to Walt --- forever.

"Some of it’s funny, some of it’s sweet, some of it’s horribly depressing, but all of it provides a realistic picture of why someone may be driven to kill another person and then himself."

Leonard is not the type of kid who fits in well at high school. After following adults around all day and seeing how unhappy they are, Leonard can’t imagine finishing high school and entering the sadness of adulthood. Still, Leonard feels the need to say goodbye to the one supposed friend who brings him happiness: Baback, a violin virtuoso. For years, Leonard has sat in on Baback’s practice sessions and been transported to someplace else by his music. Despite the peace felt listening to Baback play, it isn’t enough to stop Leonard. So with another parting gift, Leonard thanks Baback for his playing and moves on.

Perhaps the only girl Leonard would admit to liking is Lauren, a homeschooled Christian Leonard met while she was handing out Christian tracts at a subway station. Planning to kill your best friend and yourself doesn’t necessarily put you on the pathway to heaven, so it’s safe to say that Leonard and Lauren didn’t exactly hit it off during their relationship. Still, Leonard feels the need to leave her a gift to show how much he cares about her and nothing more. Finally there is Herr Silverman, Leonard’s teacher of the high school’s Holocaust class. Herr Silverman has been the only adult in Leonard’s life that has challenged him to be himself, question everything and not give in. Leonard wants Herr Silverman to know most of all what he is going to do on his birthday even though Leonard tells him nothing.

Through these different encounters with the people Leonard cares most about, readers get a glimpse into the troubled life of Leonard Peacock and the different reasons he plans on killing his former best friend and then himself. Author Matthew Quick provides a harrowing glimpse into the life of a troubled teen. Some of it’s funny, some of it’s sweet, some of it’s horribly depressing, but all of it provides a realistic picture of why someone may be driven to kill another person and then himself. To say it portrays life accurately is an understatement, and in all situations no matter how bleak, hope is present. There are always choices to made whether to cling to that hope or not, and FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK examines those choices in a powerful and unforgettable way.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on August 8, 2013

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
by Matthew Quick

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2014
  • Genres: Youth Fiction
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 031622135X
  • ISBN-13: 9780316221351