How would you spend your birthday if you knew it would be your last?
Eighteen-year-old Leonard Peacock knows exactly what he'll do. He'll say goodbye.
Not to his mum - who he calls Linda because it annoys her - who's moved out and left him to fend for himself. Nor to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing the unthinkable. But to his four friends: a Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour, a teenage violin virtuoso, a pastor's daughter and a teacher.
Most of the time, Leonard believes he's weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he's not. He wants to thank them, and say goodbye
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick was published in the UK by Headline on 16 August 2013 in hardback, the paperback is released in January 2014.
Aimed at a Young Adult market, this story is hard hitting, serious, emotional, dark and often very distressing. The author has dealt with issues that can be difficult to read about, but should not be ignored. His ability to portray the depths of a mental illness is startling, and terrifying, but most of all, very real.
The story is told over one day. It is Leonard Peacock's eighteenth birthday and if everything goes as he plans, it will also be his last birthday. In fact it will be his last day, full stop. He won't be going alone though. Leonard plans to make sure that his former best friend will not see another birthday either.
Before Leonard goes, he has things to do and people to see. There are only four people that Leonard considers to be friends, and he plans to make sure that he says a proper goodbye to each of them, and to thank them.
Leonard is not the easiest character to like, but as his story unfolds the reader can empathise with his situation. As he thinks back over his short life, we come to realise why Leonard feels the way that he does. We too begin to hate Linda, his mother and to despise Asher - the friend who turned Leonard's whole world upside down. As Leonard talks about and visits his four friends we understand why he appreciates them so much.
Matthew Quick has a genius touch with characterisation. Leonard's neighbour Walt, a chain smoking eighty year old who loves Humphrey Bogart and Herr Silverman, the German teacher who teaches Leonard so much more than history. And Leonard himself; screwed-up and angry, yet so vulnerable and so desperate for affection.
This is a cleverly told story that will hit hard and it could shock. Most importantly of all, it will allow those who may be suffering in a similar way to Leonard that they are not alone, that other people have those feelings and that maybe, just maybe there are some people out there that do care.
Highly impressive and inspiring writing. Not to be enjoyed in the conventional sense, but to be savoured and to be remembered.