Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
In this riveting story, Leonard Peacock has special plans for his 18th birthday. He plans to kill his ex-best friend! No joke; he hides his grandfather’s old World War II gun in his backpack, and plans to kill himself after he shoots Asher Beal. He also brings along with four gifts wrapped in pink wrapping paper (all he could find) for his only four friends. Although this may sound like a depressing book, the author’s characterization of Leonard keeps it upbeat and even humorous. The high school senior is smart, witty and seriously sarcastic, even while making his last visits to the only people he cares for. This oddball group includes his invalid next-door neighbor Walt who is obsessed with old Humphrey Bogart movies, a Persian student at his school who violin prodigy named Baback, a home schooled girl met met at the metro who hands out religious pamphlets to the commuters, and the only teacher he likes: Herr Silverman who teaches Holocaust studies. Readers will realize immediately that Leonard is a misfit. He lives by himself in an apartment in New Jersey because his mother, who he calls Linda, stays in New York City most of the time focussing on her fashion career. His father, a one-hit-wonder rock star, took off when he was fifteen, but has been pretty useless even when he was in the picture.
This was a super good book. Leonard’s personality caught me at the beginning of the story. It’s told in first person narration and feels like he’s talking directly to the reader. Quick is especially effective at capturing the tone of a teenage boy, making this feel extremely realistic. I recommend this title to teens looking for a story about a teen coming to terms with his difficult and painful life, readers who appreciate sarcastic humor, and fans of Quick’s earlier books.