Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: August 13th 2013
by Little Brown BfYR
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.
-A copy was provided by Hachette Book Group Canada for review-
Wow what a sad story this was! Told in the voice of a morose, yet incredibly intelligent teenage boy, we’re given a raw look into the road to suicide, and how depression affects your thoughts.
What I noticed immediately was the writing style which stood out to me as something very… honest. Not only is it told in first person – which I consider a requirement for a story such as this – but we get a format that emphasizes his unhealthy state of mind even more so. This includes foot notes on his interpretations of certain situations and people; pages that only include 1 single word for a whole sentence; “Letters from the future” which had me baffled at first but ended up leaving me teary eyed. Knowing this beforehand, I’d have worried the atypical storytelling would be annoying, and the foot notes did have me a tad distracted at first, but I ended up finding all of it kind of brilliant. Furthermore, I found myself captivated by the way Leonard sees the world, how he perceives those around him. It’s no doubt this kid is extremely intelligent. Maybe not in a straight-A book smart type, but in his analysis of people, of society. It’s like he’s already matured well beyond his years, but unfortunately this makes him an outcast. It’s not hard to see why he doesn’t blend in – It’s not as if he wants to, either.
Throughout this story we get to understand how Leonard came to feel the way he does. He did not have the best, most happiest life, and a few happenings left him feeling confused and abandoned. It was all very saddening, making it impossible to not feel sympathy for this guy. He also felt so genuine, from the devalued way he sees himself, to his blunt, sometimes awkward interactions with others. Since he doesn’t fit well with kids his own age, the side characters mostly consist of the adults in his life who are helping him fill the void he has had for so long. I loved his neighbour Walt with his chain smoking habit and amusing conversations in Bogart quotes. And I wish more teachers were like Herr Silverman; he’s a true role model of human kindness in my eyes.
Event though they read pretty differently, this book reminded me of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Maybe it’s because it remains one of the few books on suicide that I’ve read – and that one touched me in a way like no other – but I’m certain those who enjoyed one will also love the other. It tugs at your emotions from the first page. Unlike Thirteen Reasons Why, though, you’re not aware of how Leonard’s story ends. On this note, I did wish the book’s ending was a little longer, but I completely understand why it ended where it did.
It’s gritty as gritty gets – it even makes you feel uncomfortable at times. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock sends us into a the mind of a suicidal, atypical teenage boy that you’re unlikely to ever forget!