Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Silver Linings Playbook

by Matthew Quick
published: Sarah Crichton, 2008
pages: 289

Pat Peeples believes that life is actually a movie produced and directed by God and when bad things happen to him, he knows that God is punishing him.  However, silver linings are what he lives for and the silver lining to his life is that God will provide Pat's happy ending and all he needs to do is get physically fit and emotionally literate so that his wife, Nikki, will love him again.  Now after several years in a mental facility, he has returned home to his parents and begins to build his life once more, but is he ready for the stress and is involved the real world.

This story tracks Pat who has a pretty serious mental illness, which includes amnesia of the incident that required him to go to "the bad place".  There is quite a lot of insight into the mind of someone who has a mental illness because we see everything from Pat's point of view.  He's got a fixation with Nikki and making himself better for her.  Pat's way of thinking is skewed, which makes for a very interesting and unintentionally funny read.  At the beginning, it feels as though a 10-year-old boy is telling the story, but as we get to see more of Pat, there's an understanding of how he thinks about and copes with the world.

The relationships between the characters in this novel are key to understand them.   Each character in this book tells their own story, we see them from Pat's point of view.  He tends to categorize people by their marriages and how he perceives them.  For instance, Ronnie and Veronica's marriage seems to be okay, except for the fact that Veronica controls Ronnie all the time.   And his parents have a dysfunctional relationship, but he sees everything because he lives with them.  Pat's entire goal in life is to be a better husband, so he looks at the marriages around him for examples of how to or how not to act.   He works hard at being kind, not right and he's practicing on the people in his life so when "apart time" ends he will be an expert for Nikki.

There is a chapter in this book called "My Movie Montage" and it's quite possibly my favorite chapter of the entire book.  As the title suggests, it's a movie montage but in written form: enough said.

Matthew Quick proves again to be an excellent story teller, crafting intriguing characters and following them on a journey of self-discovery.  I am eager read more his work in the future.

Stars: 5/5


"Matthew Quick has created quite the heartbreaker of a novel in The Silver Linings Playbook."
      --Kirkus Review

"You don't have to be a Philadelphia Eagles' fan to appreciate talented newcomer Matthew Quick's page-turning paean to the power of hope over experience - the belief that this will all work out somehow, despite the long odds that life deals us.  Tender, soulful, hilarious, and true, The Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful debut."
     --Justin Cronin, PEN/Hemingway Award-winning author of Mary and O'Neil

Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014 book.

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