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Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge (via netgalley) in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis (from amazon)
How would you spend your birthday if you knew it would be your last?
Eighteen-year-old Leonard Peacock knows exactly what he’ll do. He’ll say goodbye.
Not to his mum – who he calls Linda because it annoys her – who’s moved out and left him to fend for himself. Nor to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing the unthinkable. But to his four friends: a Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour, a teenage violin virtuoso, a pastor’s daughter and a teacher.
Most of the time, Leonard believes he’s weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he’s not. He wants to thank them, and say goodbye.
Okay, so to review this book in any sort of decent way I have to reveal an important plot point. It’s major, but not really a spoiler, you find out in the first few pages. However, if you want to go in completely blind just know I would recommend this book, and don’t read any more of this post.
Leonard takes a gun to school. He plans to kill one boy. A boy who has made his life hell. Then he plans to turn the gun on himself. First he wants to say goodbye to his friends. Will anyone work out that something is going on? And can they stop him?
I picked this up from netgalley mainly because I’d heard good things about one Quick’s previous novels; The Silver Lining’s Playbook (which was made into a film). I didn’t expect some literary great, but I liked the sound of the plot, and I was interested to read it. I wasn’t disappointed.
The one thing which really struck me about this book is how much I liked Leonard. I didn’t think I would be able to have more than sympathy for him, and whatever had made him want to become a killer. I liked him though. He was a little weird maybe, but I like quirky people. I didn’t want him to kill anyone, I didn’t want him to start shooting that gun. I can’t say I didn’t believe that he would, but I thought there might be a chance he would see another way. Each time it seemed like he might give up on his plan, and at times when it seemed he would see t through I was impassioned, either cheering that it might be okay, or hoping that he might still not do it.
For a long time we don’t really know why Leonard wants to kill his classmate. We can see why he dislikes him, but not why he hates him enough to want him dead.
I don’t think I can say much more without spoiling. It’s a fairly easy read. It’s style is conversational, and it isn’t all doom and gloom, there is a little humour there too, mostly black humour, yes, but it provides light relief.
(highlight for spoilers) The end? Well it just wasn’t right. It should have either stopped earlier or carried on further. I respected Herr Silverman for going out of his way as he did, and he undoubtedly helped Leonard, but there was something a little phony about him to, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. I wouldn’t have got that if it ended earlier, if it had ended when Leonard was saved from himself. Then there was the whole thing with Linda not taking him seriously. Honestly I thought she was worse than Asher, I could understand (even if I didn’t agree with) how Asher behaved, but Linda just didn’t seem to care. With Leonard refusing help from Herr Silverman, and being denied help from his Mum (Linda) I didn’t see how things could really get better for him. Maybe he no longer wanted to kill Asher, or no longer could, but does that mean he wouldn’t resort to some other desperate measure. I needed to know that Leonard got help.