Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Published: August 13th 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Summary from Goodreads: 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 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.
“You’re different. And I’m different too. Different is good. But different is hard. Believe me, I know.”
I actually received the ARC at NCTE last November but had put off picking it up. While I love Quick’s writing style, I was hesitant about the subject of the book. I’ve read other books about school shootings and have had a difficult time getting through them. I was in high school when Columbine happened (I know, I’m showing my age) and living only a few hours away made it hit really hard. Being in the classroom, school shootings are always something in the back of my mind. This being said, I’m not usually eager to pick up a book that deals with such a sensitive topic, which is probably why I put off reading it for so long. When I saw it on audible, I decided it was time to see what all the talk was about.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is written from Leonard’s point of view and Leonard is an extremely honest teen which is sometimes hard to hear. There is some foul language but it doesn’t seem gratuitous since Leonard is in such a distressed state of mind. I have mixed emotions about Leonard. Mostly my heart breaks for him but I also can’t justify wanting to kill somebody. I do love the relationship he has with the neighbor and all of their references to Bogart films. I also appreciate the relationship Leonard develops with Herr Silverman. I’m partial to books that show teachers as caring and trustworthy individuals. Quick does an excellent job showing what led up to Leonard’s unfortunate decision.
I know there are several teens who feel the way Leonard does and I hope they will reach out to get the help they need. In addition, I think that EVERY teen should read this book to truly understand what bullying and harassment can lead to. I commend Quick for taking on such a taboo subject. We can learn a little something from reading Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.