Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Trigger Warnings: Suicide/Depression
In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I’m sorry I couldn’t be more than I was–that I couldn’t stick around–and that what’s going to happen today isn’t their fault.
Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.
Maybe one day he’ll believe that being different is okay, important even.
But not today.
To Review or Not to Review?
I read Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock via audiobook in early May, listening to Leonard’s day as I cleaned and unpacked in my new house. Half way through, my husband even started listening (he’s a secret reader–getting him hooked on audiobooks is my new sneaky trick.) And for a long time since reading this book, I thought I wasn’t going to review it. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. I’m still not sure this review will make a lot of sense, but I’m going to try.
I’ll start with the obvious: this book is meant to be shocking. It’s not only about suicide. It’s about a suicidal teenager who wants to kill a classmate. The book–narrated first-person by Leonard–is crude and violent, full of cursing and deliberately antagonistic comments. I was not at all sure about that at first. As other reviewers complained, it seemed like the author was trying too hard to be shocking. I’ll come back to that.
Leonard’s reasons for wanting to commit suicide were–to me–fairly predictable. He was also giving off textbook signs, cutting his hair, giving away possessions, changing his personality, etc. For much of the book, I struggled with how I felt about it, and I considered quitting several times.
But here’s what I have to say about the book.
While some of the statements and emotions seem over-the-top, the entire story is first-person narrative. And internal emotions–especially those of a depressed, angry teenage boy–are often very strong and much more dramatic than we would voice. Also, an eighteen-year-old boy would likely be prone to making intentionally shocking statements. So I came to accept that as an appropriate part of Leonard’s character.
As for the predictability of his depression–I decided that maybe it was only predictable to me because of my personal experience and extensive study. Also, these stories need to be told, even if I think I know how they end.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is painful, real, and surprisingly hopeful. Strongly recommended read for upper YA and all adults, with, of course, appropriate content/trigger warnings.