It’s Leonard Peacock’s birthday. He is planning on killing himself and taking out Asher Beal, his onetime friend. But first he must say goodbye. He carefully wraps gifts for his four friends; his elderly Bogart obsessed neighbour, a teenage violinist from Iran, an evangelist girl he meets at the station and his favourite teacher.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is heartbreaking from the start; what would drive a teenage boy to do such a thing on his 18th birthday? The writing is angsty yet immensely believable. Leonard doesn’t come across as a boy you would instantly like and it’s difficult to empathise with someone so hell bent on murder. But as he hands out his gifts and reveals what happened to get him where he is mentally, he grows on you.
His collection of oddball friends paints a picture of a boy with goodness in his heart deep down. That he befriends an old and lonely neighbour and regularly goes round to watch Humphrey Bogart films together shows he can show compassion. I liked how they communicated through Bogart quotes when it was just too hard for them to speak the truth. I laughed at his infatuation with the girl who would only date a Christian when he battles with his atheist beliefs and the chance of a kiss. And Herr Silverman is the kind of teacher you hope every troubled student has around to speak to.
The story is interspersed with Leonard’s letters from the future. It’s clear enough from the style that they are supposedly written by him as they do have a certain unpolished quality. This did mean I felt they interrupted the flow a little and to be honest, I started skimming over them. It was a nice idea, and might work better for younger readers who can see their own writing mirrored on the pages. However you can read Matthew Quick’s excellent letter to his teen self here.
Of course, I won’t tell you whether or not he goes through with his plan. You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is published by Headline and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 15th August 2013. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.
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