Four Birthday Gifts and a Nazi Handgun

book cover of Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew QuickForgive Me, Leonard Peacock

by Matthew Quick
Little, Brown and Company, 2013
ISBN: 9780316221337
273 pages
Young Adult

It’s Leonard Peacock’s eighteenth birthday, and he has a few plans to mark the day. He has four gifts to give to the four people who made a difference in his life. Then, he is going to use an old Nazi handgun on his former best friend whose actions set him on a downward spiral before committing suicide with the same gun.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is an emotional, heart-wrenching read. Quick, author of Silver Linings Playbook, does a remarkable job of creating a believable young man who is in an immense amount of pain. Although he is still in high school, Leonard lives alone while his absent mother is in New York, pursuing a career in fashion. No one recognizes it’s his birthday. Of the four people Leonard has goodbye gifts for– his old neighbor who loves Humphrey Bogart films and cigars, the violin virtuoso whose practice sessions have given Leonard hope, the only teacher who seems to get Leonard, and the young street corner evangelist Leonard had a crush on–only the neighbor and the teacher seem to care about Leonard.

Ultimately, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is the story of an unusual and extremely lonely young man dealing with an untenable amount of pain. But it is also a story about looking for the tiniest bit of hope, about finding one small reason to keep going when life seems too much to handle.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is considered a young adult book. However, like many young adult books, it should appeal to readers of all ages. Despite the depressing topic, Leonard makes a charming, relatable, and occasionally funny narrator. If you like darker, realistic stories that deal with real-life issues in a humanizing, compassionate way, be sure to check out Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.

Find Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock at Saint Paul Public Library

You Might Also Consider…

  • For another young adult book that tackles the issue of teen suicide in a thought-provoking way, try Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • For a slightly lighter look at mental illness and a teenager who struggles to fit in, check out OCD, the Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn
  • For another young man struggling with depression and a bad family situation who finds moments of escape through literature, try Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

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