Posts tagged ‘littlebrown’

August 10th, 2013

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Author: Matthew Quick

Published: August 13, 2013

Number of Pages: 273

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

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. [From Goodreads]

Official Review Sent to Little Brown:

Matthew Quick’s third Young Adult novel, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, is tough to swallow, but it deals with difficult topics that need addressing. Quick heard Leonard’s voice asking to have its story told and has done so with magnificent skill, creating a book full of confusion and chaos and neglect, but never hopelessness. If there’s any one moral to Leonard’s story, it’s that the world is a dark place, but good people can be beacons of light, and in the end, light penetrates the darkness.

Review:

I finished this book approximately three minutes ago.

It’s still moving through me, circulating in my veins, soaking into my mind, making it fuzzy and stuck half-way in reality, half-out.

I have other things that need doing right now, but I feel the need to review this book while it’s still coursing through me.

I’m not sure how I feel about Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. It’s not my favorite of Matthew Quick’s books, it’s not the most enjoyable – in fact, it often made me uncomfortable – but the things is: That’s the point. This book isn’t a generally happy book. It deals with uncomfortable topics. Tough things. Abuse, neglect, depression. These are things we don’t like to spend too much time thinking about, but Leonard Peacock reminded me of what I already knew was true but had forgotten: there are people who don’t get to choose whether or not they have to think about these things, and it’s crucial that we don’t forget those people. That we don’t turn a blind eye to what makes us uncomfortable simply because it’s hard.

Leonard’s mother, Linda, was the beautiful yet tragic personification of the phrase “turning a blind eye.” Her inability to focus on Leonard, her eagerness to see what she wanted to see, or what was easiest to process, wasn’t just absurd. It was sad. I’m still saddened by the idea that she will never appreciate her boy for what he has withstood. As Leonard says at one point, she’s missing out.

So, like I said, this book is hard. There’s a profuse amount of f-words and gruesome images, but, however much I disliked them, I came to realize that they are a part of who Leonard Peacock is, for now, and that because I came to love him, I could deal with them.

I have no doubt that some people will be turned off quite quickly by Leonard’s depression and “angst,” but there’s a reason for his angst. It’s not like his prom date stood him up, or he didn’t get a car for his eighteenth birthday. Leonard is lost, and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is the story of his realizing that being lost is not the end of the world, that finding his place in the world may take time but that it – his place – is out there somewhere, and he’s the only one who can fill it.

That hope, that optimism, is the light in a dark book. Matthew Quick, who I’ve respected and admired since his first YA book, Sorta Like a Rockstar (here’s the review and an interview he graciously participated in later), has written yet another magnificent, one-of-a-kind book. I think that’s what I love most about his books. There is nothing quite like them. They aren’t even particularly like each other. And that’s how you know that his characters are telling their stories, as opposed to him spinning tales of his own. Matthew has managed, yet again, to hear the voice of a character with a story that needed telling and to take it upon himself to tell it.

So, whether or not the book made me uncomfortable at times, whether or not I ever read it again (I’m not sure I could handle it), I appreciate it for its honesty, its bluntness, and its message. As Gandalf would say, “Not all those who wander are lost,” and I think that’s what Leonard is trying to figure out.

Ultimately, I came to love Leonard. At first, I pitied him. Now, I still feel sorry for him because of what he’s been forced to deal with, but I admire him. As his few, true friends know, he has a light in him that shines into the dark world. He has the potential, and, even more importantly, the desire (whether he admits it to himself or not) to make people happy, and what’s pitiful about that? Nothing.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a chaotic book. It throws your emotions right and left and swings them back and forth, but it teaches without being preachy. It’s full of dark things, but lovely things are sprinkled in between, like Humphrey Bogart films and Hamlet and banana chocolate-chip pancakes. It’s bittersweet, but so is life, and I think that’s the point.

So, thank you Little Brown, for the galley, and thank you Matthew Quick, for listening to the voices in your head that need to have their stories told, and for telling them.

December 28th, 2010

Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Fixing Delilah

Author: Sarah Ockler

Published: December 1st, 2010

Number of Pages: 304

Rating: 3/5

Review Sent to Little Brown*:

On the surface, Sarah Ockler’s Fixing Delilah looks to be just another book about a summer adventure – lakes, fireworks, fairs, long-lost friends that return better than ever – but the character dynamics and growth make the story full and luscious. With a sort of Steel Magnolias feel, Fixing Delilah depicts women as their rawest, truest selves, displaying their fluctuating emotions but unwavering power. And the sweet love story is just a splendid bonus. So, while the book isn’t extraordinary, it’ll hold its own – just like its women.

Synopsis:

Things in Delilah Hannaford’s life have a tendency to fall apart.

She used to be a good student, but she can’t seem to keep it together anymore. Her “boyfriend” isn’t much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.

Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family’s painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?

Rich with emotion, Sarah Ockler delivers a powerful story of family, love, and self-discovery. [From Goodreads]

Review:

This review is far later than I meant it to be. Sorry once again to Little Brown, who was great enough to send me an ARC!

I’ve never read Sarah Ockler’s debut, Twenty Boy Summer, and therefore had no idea what to expect from Fixing Delilah when I requested it months ago. I’m not even sure what turned me on to it. I wouldn’t normally read a book that, as I said in my official review, seems like “just another book about a summer adventure.” However, I was pleased with it and am glad I gave it a chance.

Delilah Hannaford, though not a main character that appears to be genuinely unique to me, held the story up well. She was the narrator the story needed to hold it together – the glue of the book. So, although I personally wasn’t wowed by or very interested in her, I respected her importance to the story.

The supporting characters were the folks who I found myself fonder of. Patrick, for instance, was cute and the sort of “Prince Charming” everyone likes to read about. I only wish that I thought Delilah was as perfect for him as he seems to think she is. Emily, a friend of Patrick’s who stretches to become a friend of Delilah’s, was my favorite character. If only I could have had more of her! She was cute and friendly and intelligent. I would have loved to see her in more scenes. She was definitely the sort of friend that was integral for Delilah’s growth – her “fixing.”

There are so many layers to the feuds, love, and anxiety of the Hannaford women. The past is painstakingly dragged into the future through people both dead and alive. (No, there are not zombies in the book, although that would have been an interesting development.)

I particularly enjoyed the mother-daughter love story. I have a mother who, much like Delilah’s, is a young, successful, stressed businesswoman, and I could really relate to the struggles between Delilah and her mother. Even though my relationship with my mother isn’t nearly as strenuous, I can imagine how it could be and how that would affect my life, particularly now during high school – when a girl needs her mother most.

Fixing Delilah is primarily about relationships, most of which begin broken and struggling to breath. The journey doesn’t involve car chases or bombs, but emotional troubles that are just as tangible and harmful. With a book full of women and emotional strain, there’s certainly plenty of drama – and tears.

My biggest disappointment was the predictability and the clichés. I’ve seen/read/heard this story before. Perhaps if Delilah had struck me more as an individual, the story itself might have done the same. I knew how the love story would play out from the beginning, or at the very least had enough of an idea not to be surprised when things went in certain directions. However, Fixing Delilah is still a fun read that I think will appeal to plenty of people, particularly to those with busy mothers, those who have weaknesses for singing boys, or both.

Essentially, I wasn’t thrilled or surprised or wowed, but this book is satisfying and precisely what you’d expect – which can be a nice treat in a world of so many possibilities and so few probabilities.

October 27th, 2010

Megalodon Winners!

by Madeleine Rex

Whoot! I just spent and hour+ working on picking winners! (You are super lucky that I don’t have school today.)

Drum roll please….

Winner One (of 5 books and a $10 Amazon Books gift card):

Danna Wilson!

Winner Two (of three of the remaining books):

Liyana Othman!

Winner Three (of the three last books):

Stephanie Takes-Desbiens!

And there we are! Thanks to Little Brown for the books they donated, and thanks to the many, many people who contributed to the total of 914 entries! It was phenomenal! … Although my fingers might be sore from all that number typing.

Have a fantastic Wednesday!

Winners: Emails will be sent.