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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock    by Matthew Quick order for
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
by Matthew Quick
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Leonard Peacock and Asher Beal were childhood friends. Something happened when they were twelve years old, a terrible betrayal. Now, on Leonard's sixteenth birthday, he has cut off all his hair and is planning to shoot Asher and then himself. The why of it pulls reader interest through the story.

Leonard wraps four gifts for those he cares about (in pink paper which is all he can find) and also wraps up the gun (a Nazi officer's P-38 inherited from his grandfather) in an old cedar cigar box. He leaves his hair in the refrigerator for Linda (his narcissistic mother).

The recipients of the gifts tell us a great deal about Leonard himself. The first is his neighbor Walt, a smoker with bad lungs. They speak to each other in lines from Casablanca and other favorite movies that they often watch together. Leonard gives him a Bogart hat.

Next is Leonard's friend Baback (of Iranian descent). Leonard helped Baback when Asher bullied him and loved to listen to him play the violin. Leonard tries to give him a substantial gift, but Baback believes he's making fun of him.

The third gift recipient is Leonard's Holocaust class teacher, Herr Silverman, for whom he has tremendous respect. Herr Silverman accepts the gift but is concerned for Leonard and makes a deal with him, in exchange for a promise.

Next, Leonard meets Lauren, who spends her time handing out Christian tracts - Leonard has crushed on her for some time, though he shares none of her convictions. Lauren accepts the gift and tells Leonard that she prays for him and will continue to do so.

Finally the end game begins. How does it conclude? You'll have to read the book to find out but it's fitting and well done. Many chapters start with imaginative Letters from the Future, in which Leonard postulates a better life for himself in a dystopian future. They're almost as intriguing as the main story. Don't miss Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.

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