Saturday, May 18, 2013

Review: The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

I’m going to say something that I don’t normally say and that I will probably catch a lot of heat for. Well, whatever, I don’t care. This is my blog and I can write whatever I feel and I feel that in the case of the book I’ll be reviewing today….the movie was better.

The Silver Linings Playbook (in case you've been living under a rock for the past 6 months) is the journey of Pat Peoples after his release from a Baltimore Mental Institution. Pat is released after serving years for a violent crime that he has blocked from his memory. Pat returns home to New Jersey to a surly and withdraw father, an altered brother, a wife he is having “apart time” with, and a mother who is trying to hold this whole motley crew together with some hugs and crabby snacks. Pat is convinced that his life is a movie and that he is making his way to his happy ending, or his silver-lining, if you will. The novel is Pat's journey to re-self discovery and his true silver lining, even if it is not in the form that he thinks it will be.

Title: The Silver Linings Playbook
Author: Matthew Quick
Publication Date: 2008
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Where I Got It: Target in Huntersville, NC
Dates I Read It: May 14 – May 18, 2013
Number of Stars: 4.5/5

Though I did enjoy the movie more than I did the book, I still really loved the book. It was a quick read (I had it finished in four days during one of the worst and busiest work weeks I have had all school year) and I was actually really sad when it was over. The movie was quite different from the book and several scenes were distorted, added or dismissed and the characters were somewhat different, this is especially true when it comes to Pat.

Pat is suffering from some sort of mental illness (major depression?) which has kept him locked inside of “the bad place”, a mental institution in Baltimore, for more than three years. When Pat is released and we meet him, he has the voice of a child. It is difficult to say if this is a result of the drugs that he is taking copious amounts of, the fact that we learn late in the book that he has had a major head injury, the fact that Pat is still in some ways incredibly immature, or because Matthew Quick thinks that all people suffering from mental illness are childlike. Despite the fact that it is so childlike, I have to admit that I did love Pat’s voice. He provided a great, fresh perspective to the book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The book read like Pat’s journal (and a part later in the book makes me believe that it, in fact, was supposed to be Pat’s journal). There were also several chapters towards the end that were a series of letters between Pat, “Nikki” and Tiffany (his best friend’s wife’s sister who Pat begins spending a lot of time with upon his release. Tiffany, too, is suffering from some mental health issues.) At first I thought that Quick was giving Pat the childish voice because he was mentally ill (Pat, not Matthew) and that is how Quick thought all mentally ill people thought and spoke. However, I have to admire the chapter on Terrell Owens that Quick includes in the book. During this section Pat is extremely uncomfortable at the Eagles fans mocking Owens’ attempted suicide and devotes an entire chapter to understanding what mental illness really is and why it’s important to be empathetic.

The best part of this book is without question, Pat. I found myself missing him once the book was over, like a friend that you suddenly think of one day and want to call, but can’t because it’s been years and they don’t have a Facebook. I feel like Pat would understand my pining for him so much. At one point in the book he ventures back to his Alma Mater and perfectly captures the feeling of missing a place or a time or a person or an event so much:

“…it makes me feel happy and sad at the same time to be back at La Salle- almost like looking at old pictures of people who have either died or with whom you've lost contact.”

As I was reading about this book online I learned that it was a nominee for the PEN/Hemingway award and that Quick has three other books published. I will absolutely pick up these other three as I did enjoy Silver Linings Playbook so much and I hope that the others will be just as enjoyable.

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