I will admit that I didn’t immediately like Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick. However, I will also admit that it grew on me. It is Leonard’s 18th birthday and no one remembered. His father is theoretically in jail in South America. His mother, a fashion designer shacked up with some Frenchman, lives in New York while Matthew lives on his own in New Jersey. His only true friend is Walt, the old man next door, with whom he watches old black and white Humphrey Bogart movies.
So, Leonard decides to make this birthday worth remembering. First he’ll kill his former best friend, Asher Beal, and then he’ll off himself using a P-38 WW II Nazi handgun his grandfather took off of a German soldier. But first he has to hand out four presents to people he likes, leaving one for his mother in the refrigerator.
It takes more than half the book before Quick finally tells you why Leonard wants to kill Asher. Before that point, you, to some extent, thinks he’s an asshole (excuse my French), a spoiled kid who got his way all the time and, while ignored by his mother, still doesn’t have much to complain about. However, there is a valid reason Leonard is the way he is.
Quick is a good writer and Leonard’s story could have turned out less compelling in another’s hands. Leonard has serious issues and while all the ‘warning signs’ are there, no one seems to take them seriously, except his Holocaust studies teacher, Herr Silverman. There are reasons for abrupt changes in personality, be it Asher’s or Leonard’s, and they must be taken seriously. Quick points out the amazing good that comes from just one person caring about another, going out of his way to help someone. He also shows what a boy floundering around looks like, one who feels that life has no purpose.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is certainly not an uplifting book, but it’s well worth the investment.