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Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

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Summary
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 hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate, Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In this riveting look at a day in the life of a disturbed teenage boy, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.

Review
Leonard Peacock is someone that could be anyone you know. When you hear about a kid who brings a gun to school, why does it take a tragedy to seek the answers for why? Many times the answer is reflected back from that introspective search. 

If you have or know a teen, than this book is one that they should absolutely read. I think considering the issues with school bullying and school violence, this would be a great book to open up a dialogue. The story told by Leonard is one that goes too many times silent with the consequences that have become too familiar. As the book chronicles the day Leonard decides to end the life of a classmate and himself, we hear a voice that demands to be heard. The depths of his pain permeates through the readers heart and challenges a place in your consciousness that grasp sympathy, compassion and sorrow for a person whose life at such a young age felt so much pain that could've been spared.

Well written, this character had such an innocent purity to him that grabs your attention as a reader. 
His honesty and pain was something that many people who are feeling similar could relate to. So many times people focus on the act but never really search for the answers to why or what could've been done to prevent it. Here's a kid whose parents were not there for him and showed no sense of love or support, a friend who betrayed him in a way that devastated a part of his life that was so heartbreaking and experiences of life that left him feel worthless, depleted and not good enough. For many people who get bullied or are suffocated by experiences like that leave your life in this state feeling the worst case scenario is their only solution. 

What I loved about this story without give too much away is that for the teachers out there who respond and reach out to a student in need can make the biggest difference in the world. For young people who don't have anyone, all it can take is one person who they admire or trust to show they care. The relationship that unfolds that leads up to a major situation in this book between one of his teachers, Herr Silverman, is one that I hope empowers others to reach out to any student who might resemble a student like that. What I also loved were these letters to the future that added such a nice touch to the story that inspired hope and seeing that no matter how bad life seems right now that the future has the potential to be greater.

For all this book encompasses, I think no matter whether you define this demographic or are an adult that it is worth the read. Leonard Peacock is a character that you will never forget but hope that for many who might be like him find the courage to know there is light even though things seem dark and hopeless. 

Reviewed by Michelle Bowles

Book Information
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 8/13/2013
Pages: 273

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