Emily May's Reviews > Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
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it was amazing
bookshelves: young-adult, contemporary, 2013

I imagined all of my blood flowing out into the snow and watching it turn a beautiful crimson color as Philadelphians walked by in a great hurry, not even pasuing to admire the beauty of red snow, let alone register the fact that a high school kid was dying right in front of their eyes.

I don't know how helpful this review will be because I read most of the book through a film of tears. Which is an embarrassingly melodramatic statement to make after this book managed to be so dark and sad without feeling forced or manipulative like my words. But it's true.

Some of my tears were laughter; most of them were sadness. I just... I don't know how to review books like this. I want to string together a list of beautiful, funny or sad quotes from the book when what I'm really saying is: "Just read it. Don't take my word for it. Look, it's there. Go love it." Most of the book's strengths can't be talked about without spoilers and one of the main issues in the story is very much needed; there's not nearly enough books out there about it. But I can't tell you what it is.

I'm tempted to say "I wish all books were like this" but that would totally defeat the point of what I'm saying. Because Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock felt so different to everything else out there and that's partly why I loved it so much. Some of Leonard's problems have been explored in other young adult novels, but none of them do it in quite the same way. I especially liked the creative use of letters Leonard wrote to himself from the future (this makes a lot more sense when you read the book, I swear). But, as with Sorta Like a Rock Star, the real strength lies with the vibrant, full-of-life protagonist himself. He takes center stage and captures your attention for the whole book, dragging you into his life until you find it hard to put down the novel and convince yourself he isn't real.

Sorta Like a Rock Star is a darker book than the cover would have you think but it looks like sunshine and rainbows when compared to this. And yet, somehow, Quick manages to make the dark story of Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock work by mixing in some scenes of humour and, ultimately, hope. I can handle dark and depressing stories just fine, but a light at the end of the tunnel to balance out a story where I care so much about the main character is essential. And in this book, I cared so much I couldn't look away. It's such a sad story-- about how Leonard decided his eighteenth birthday would be his last, and why. Taking his grandfather's P-38 pistol in his backpack, he sets out to kill his former best friend and himself. Over the course of the day, we slowly learn the reasons behind Leonard's decision and are forced to sit on the edge of our seats, hoping one of the people in his life breaks the pattern and stops letting him down.

Leonard Peacock has to be one of the loneliest characters I've ever encountered. He's weird. He's confused. Part of him wants to die but most of him just wants to be saved. There's a sad honesty to his voice that makes the story so convincing and that much more effective. I also love books that weave in questions about morality and make the reader stop and think for a while. There's plenty of questions being asked here about life, death, parental responsibility, the way we view others, and religion. The last of which, in my opinion, gives us some of the funniest moments of the whole novel (though perhaps not if you're particularly devout). There is some mockery of the whole "believe or be damned to hell" aspect of religion but, let's be honest, that is hilarious.

All I can say now is: read this. But be prepared for sadness. There's a sad tone to the novel that goes beyond the "issues" targeted. And I think the reason is Leonard Peacock. Because the author makes you love him and you just want to hug him and solve his problems, knowing that you can't. That's the only reason I can think of to explain why this book was so sad even in the happier bits. And why I was tearing up even when Leonard said "the world would be a better place if they gave medals to great teachers rather than just soldiers." Jeez, I'm going to cry again if I don't stop talking about this book. So, get out of here. Go READ IT.

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Comments Showing 1-50 of 60 (60 new)


Kyle So happy you enjoyed this one. I'm #1 for my library's waiting list so I can't wait to start this one!


Emily May I loved it! Well... in a so-effin'-sad kinda way :)


Kyle Yes I remember Sorta Like a Rock Star being one of the saddest books in my life. :( Yet easily one of the most brilliant.


message 4: by Sadia (new) - added it

Sadia Beautiful review, Emily! This definitely looks like a book I could love, thank you for bringing it to my attention. :)


message 5: by Lynsey (new) - added it

Lynsey You've convinced me; I'm to pick up a copy as soon as life will let me.


Stella Chen Superb review, Emily! I've been telling my friends about this book ever since I read it. Your review will definitely help FM,LP get on many people's bookshelves.


Emily May Thank you Sadie, Lynsey and Stella :)


Tatiana I am so happy you wrote this review, because I was too lazy/busy to do so. And this book deserves to be read and admired by many people.


Emily May So true. I just hope people will listen :)


Brenda Ayala I definitely want to read this now. I was already curious about it, but now I think I will because a.) I like stories with depth and b.) I like a good cry sometimes


Emily May Well, it definitely checks both those boxes. I hope you like it :)


Emily May Thanks, Sam! I loved this book so much :')


Jordan Meetsthealchemist You are brilliant.


Emily May Lol. Thank you, Jordan :)


Aishah Just finished reading it. I can't stop crying and thinking about the questions in the book.


Patrick Such a deep and thought filled book. Also pretty dang sad to.


Jason Lalljee I agree. I loved how unpretentious the book was. I don't think I've ever felt this sad without even a bit of emotional manipulation.


message 18: by June (new) - rated it 5 stars

June I won a copy of this in a giveaway..it isn't the sort of thing I generally go for..all I can say is I am bawling my eyes out..wonderful wonderful book


Emily May Glad you liked it too! I only hope more people find their way towards this beautiful story :)


message 20: by Julia (new) - added it

Julia After reading this review, I definitely have to read it now. Up to the top of my to-read list it goes!


message 21: by Leah (new) - rated it 5 stars

Leah Polcar I feel you. I only just started it and I am already crying through it. Already seems like an unbelievably powerful book.


Emily May It really is. I hope you continue to love it, Leah :)


message 23: by Sam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sam Lovell I'm halfway through this novel, I downloaded it on ibooks this morning and I have been hooked. I've read both The Good Luck of Right now and The Silver Linings Playbook and wondered if Matthew Quick's young adult work would live up to my high expectations. This review thankfully helped me make my decision to read this book and I am so glad it did because I'm loving this. And that quote about the red snow, had really stuck in my head - such a good story. :)


Emily May Sam, thank you for telling me - I'm so happy that you loved this book as much as I did! Such an incredibly powerful and moving novel.


message 25: by Sam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sam Lovell Thank you, Emily! I can relate to Leonard in a way because his feelings of loneliness are presented so well by Matthew Quick because I sometimes feel with books that characters with supposedly 'sad' backgrounds can get presented artificially, same with the whole idea of how teens act. For example I found The Fault In Our Stars to be unrealistic within the presentation of teens. Leonard is a genuine character, and the description of the school and the way he wonders if life really does 'get better' is just told with such clever writing that you feel connected with the character, and though a lot of what he thinks of can have a bitter edge to them - he is an unlikely hero. I haven't actually finished the novel yet, probably will tomorrow so I can't really justify my overall opinion but so far I am in love! The only thing I can't wrap my head around just yet is these 'letters from the future' - I may have been distracted because I was reading till page 100 in one setting with my eyes tiring, though what does it mean when these chapters formed by letters present themselves? It was probably my weakened sight, but it's the only thing I'm finding hard to understand. (Sorry to ask but I don't want to look it up and accidentally read a massive spoiler) :)


message 26: by Sam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sam Lovell Oh, nevermind - I missed the part in your review when you said 'letters from himself.' I didn't understand, and you stated that it makes more sense as you continue. Sorry about that, as I said - weakened eyes from reading most of the day. :D


Danisa Great review emily. this were the thoughts in my head that i can't congest into word. thanks! :)


Adeeb I have to wholeheartedly agree with you. No author has ever managed to get into a teenager's head this clearly. Each and every page, I could sympathize with Peacock and I actually could understand why he was doing what he did. A book I will never forget!

It's actually my favorite book this year so far.


Machel my fav. read of 92014!


Machel *2014


Laura I loved this book so much. Couldn't have said it better than you did. Definitely a favorite.


Miranda Matos Because of your review I bought this book and now I just finished reading it and there are no words. I owe all of this to you. Thank you for your amazing, convincing review. I feel transformed. This book changed how I look at things because, like you said, he asked a lot of questions which truly made me think. So thank you Emily. Thank you so much.


Emily May Miranda wrote: "Because of your review I bought this book and now I just finished reading it and there are no words. I owe all of this to you. Thank you for your amazing, convincing review. I feel transformed. Thi..."

Oh wow, I'm so glad I was able to help you find a book you loved so much! Thanks for coming back to let me know :)


Miranda Matos No problem! I love your reviews. :) there's actually a few books I loved that you didn't quite enjoy but I still agree with what you say in the reviews. It's kinda contradictory haha but you just give very valid arguments that I tend to sway on your side even if the book is one of my favorites!


message 35: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura OK, that sold me on this. I have found that 95% of the books you love, I will love as well. Only had one dud from you so far, so that is a good batting record (could not get into Ember in the Ashes).


Nicay │The Nerdy side of a Queen I will read it the soonest. Thank you for this lovely review. :)


Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ This is such a beautiful review, Em. Thank you for this, really, because I'm not sure I would have tried it if I didn't read it, and I would have missed an important book.


Emily May Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ wrote: "This is such a beautiful review, Em. Thank you for this, really, because I'm not sure I would have tried it if I didn't read it, and I would have missed an important book."

Thank you, Anna :) This is one of those books that I really wish was more widely read.


Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ Emily May wrote: "Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ wrote: "This is such a beautiful review, Em. Thank you for this, really, because I'm not sure I would have tried it if I didn't read it, and I would have missed an import..."

Yeah. I think that the suicide issue scares away many readers - me included, for a while - and that's a shame because there's more to it than that.


Brian Lebovitz Read it based on your review. Was compelling, beautiful, and horribly sad. Well worth it. Thank you.


message 41: by KimberlyRose (new) - added it

KimberlyRose Your thought that he somewhat wants to die but mostly wants to be saved? Beautiful. Also, this: "I can handle dark and depressing stories just fine, but a light at the end of the tunnel to balance out a story where I care so much about the main character is essential." Absolutely, me too. I'll read this soon!


message 42: by KimberlyRose (new) - added it

KimberlyRose Although I usually end up not liking Quick's books. Here's hoping.


Noura. Well I'm reading it right now but I don't think i got the future letters thing. Who wrote them? And for what!!


Emily May Kimmy wrote: "Your thought that he somewhat wants to die but mostly wants to be saved? Beautiful. Also, this: "I can handle dark and depressing stories just fine, but a light at the end of the tunnel to balance ..."

Thank you! I really hope you end up liking it :)


Emily May Noura wrote: "Well I'm reading it right now but I don't think i got the future letters thing. Who wrote them? And for what!!"

Leonard wrote them to himself in the future.


message 46: by Mike (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike Behlke I read this book because of your review, as well. Just finished it. Couldn't put it down. Thank you for your well written review. it allowed me to find this gem. :)


Emily May Mike wrote: "I read this book because of your review, as well. Just finished it. Couldn't put it down. Thank you for your well written review. it allowed me to find this gem. :)"

Thanks, Mike! So glad you liked it.


Poonam Hi Emily. I picked this up based on your review. This has been a fantastic read.


message 49: by Sarah Suzy (new) - added it

Sarah Suzy Wow! I'm getting out of here to go read it! Thanks!


message 50: by Ariana (new) - added it

Ariana Milo I read your review and instantly but this book on my TBR list. You described it so beautifully and interestingly that I can't wait to read it. Thank you


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