Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Published August 13, 2013
About Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
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.
In this riveting look at a day in the life of a disturbed teenage boy, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.
As Leonard delivers the presents, it’s clear there are people who care for him and who suspect that Leonard has chartered a short, one-way ticket to self-destruction. They plead with and encourage him to have hope, to think of his future.
While the story by its nature is pretty grim, Leonard manages to relate events with some wry humor and an appreciation for the ridiculous. Though it’s clear his family life is awful and his school life a torment, an impossible thread of hope remains deep inside him. He wants to believe that a better future exists, and we see that hope at war with the depression and fury within. That’s the real beauty of this story.
One thing that sets this novel apart from others featuring a teen shooter is the letters from the future featured at intervals during the story. I loved that the letter-writers related this dystopian, post-apocalyptic world and that despite the whole world falling to pieces, Leonard had found the people who loved and understood him.
It’s always tragic to see a teen give up on life – and everyone always wants to tell the kid, hey, think of your future! Here, in this novel, instead of some well-meaning adage, Quick paints this fascinating picture of the future Leonard could have. I loved that unique touch.
This is a heavy story and very grim in moments. I think despite those things, this novel carries an important message and was bravely written.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme word choice, moderate frequency.
A young man alludes to an abusive relationship in which he was raped. His descriptions are vague but powerful. It’s his mentor later who, upon hearing about it, labels the incident as rape. A teenaged boy is caught masturbating. It’s brief, but explicit.
In letters from the future, Leonard’s wife briefly relates that they have an amazing intimate life. She hopes that having this to look forward to will help him fight through his depression and turn away from his intentions of murder and suicide.
Brief references to rape (see above.) A teenaged boy plans to shoot another boy and then kill himself.
Leonard references his father’s drug problem and events from his childhood. He remembers his dad being high and how that disappointed him.