Narrator: Noah Galvin
Published by Hachette Audio on 13 August 2013
Length: 6 hours and 19 minutes
Source: Purchased through Audible
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.
In this riveting book, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.
Thoughts: I listened to this audiobook back in November, after hearing to Matthew Quick speak at the National Book Festival. I knew going in that the narrator was going to be angry, but I did not expect how intense this story was. Part of the reason that I’ve waited so long to write my review is that I still want to cry every time I think of this book.
The story follows Leonard Peacock, a high school student who has no one to care about him except for a few tenuous relationships including a next door neighbor and a teacher. The story is all packed into 24 hours as Leonard sets out to kill his ex-best friend who ruined his life and then commit suicide. As he goes, he tries to thank the people who made a difference to him, but he only manages to further isolate himself. I sometimes find it difficult to relate to stories that take place in such a short time, but we get plenty of scenes from the past, as well as letters from the future. The letters from the future are letters Leonard writes to give himself hope for a future when he thinks the present is unlivable. These broke my heart more than anything else (I’m crying right now, just thinking about them).
Leonard makes some bad choices, but he is easy to love and even relate to. He tries so hard and it is completely understandable why he has chosen murder-suicide, although I spent the entirety of the book hoping for another way out. The book ends in a realistic place for the short time span–Leonard has come to terms with a few things and sought help, but he’s not fixed–and leaves us with hope, both for Leonard and the many people out there who share his struggle.
Favorite Moments: The last letter from the future. It is a perfect way to end the book with hope after such an intense journey.
WTF moments: Pretty much any moment with Leonard’s mom. There are so many reason’s to hate her. View Spoiler »Like when Leonard tries to tell her about being sexually abused by a friend and she tries to cure him of being gay instead of helping him. « Hide Spoiler However, the moment when I completely 100% hated her is at the end. Leonard comes to terms with the fact that she is a terrible mother and decides it will all be okay if she will just spend 10 minutes making him pancakes. She can’t even manage that. I loved Leonard so much and his mom reminded me that there are real kids out there who don’t know they are worthy of love.
Narrator: This narrator brings across all of the anger bubbling up inside of Leonard Peacock. I loved it and thought he did a fantastic job with very intense material.
Overall: A very intense, important story that has stayed with me.