bookczuk's Reviews > The Silver Linings Playbook

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
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Received this book as a Good Reads First Read, though I first heard of it in June 2009 from Nancy Pearl in her summer reads picks. If you'd asked me prior to reading this book the first thing to come to mind when someone said "Philadelphia" I probably would have been very boring and said "the Liberty Bell", or maybe I'd have hummed the theme to Rocky. But ask me now, and I'd probably start blathering about this book.

It took me a little while to get the rhythm of this book, but once I was able to move my mind around to where the narrator, Pat Peoples, was speaking from, I became absorbed.

When the book begins, Pat is still a patient at a neural health facility (aka The Bad Place) where he has been for undisclosed years for undisclosed reasons. Neural health facility? That shoulda been my clue that life might not be all as it seems for our pal Pat.

The rest of the story is mostly told from Pat's POV as he writes a journal/long letter to his estranged wife Nikki. The writing is a little rough, and the dialogue sometimes stilted (which at least one reviewer complained about.) I, however, chose to believe that the author did a "good thing" in this, because the language helped remind the reader that they are reading the recollections of a man whose mind has been through the ringer and come out a bit differently than it went in. Pat is a man with holes in his memory, resulting in holes in his life. He believes his life is a movie directed by God. He believes in happy endings and silver linings in clouds. He believes in the Philadelphia Eagles. He wants to become a better person, and he wants to reunite with Nikki, believing that this time he is in is just the "apart time" until she sees how good he now is and they reunite.

Along the way, Pat stumbles into some new friends who both aid and hinder his journey: Tiffany, the somewhat disturbed sister of his best friend's wife and Dr Patel (Cliff), his psychiatrist (and Eagles fan, who makes it clear that when he's sitting in the chair in session, he is Pat's doctor. When he's out of the chair, he can speak/act as a friend). He struggles to understand his family and his life. He tries new things and tries to grow, even if it's via the obsessive physical training he puts himself through. (I found it interesting that his OC behavior was apparent but not discussed very much with his doctor.) I loved Pat's reviews of classic literature that he reads in order to prove to Nikki that he has depth and is growing/changing. But perhaps the sweetest sentiment was his realization that "it's better to be kind than to be right." That's one I'm trying to learn on my own.

One final word is that I honestly didn't know that the Eagles fans were so out there. I see Clemson and Gamecok fans here in SC, and lived in St Louis during the 1967 win over the REd Sox, but game fever was not at all what it has become today (though it was an excused absence to go to the series and we did watch the games on TVs wheeled into our Language Arts class.) The scenes of the Eagles fans were really pretty funny, and I could picture the antics and unity of all involved quite easily in my mind.
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