Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Topics: teenage angst, the Holocaust, depression, Hamlet, Humphrey Bogart
Curriculum Connections: English, Health and Physical Education (Living Skills and Mental Health), World History (Holocaust), Film
Blurb: So I’m wondering if saying “I’m sorry” and asking for someone’s forgiveness are the same thing. They are clumped together an awful lot. In my mind, they are separate: one’s a statement and one’s a question. I mean you can forgive someone even if he isn’t sorry, and you can apologize to someone who doesn’t forgive you. But what if the person is dead? Does it still count?
When I first picked up Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock I thought Leonard was the victim. But then I noticed the comma and realized it was Leonard asking for forgiveness. And why had he included his first and last name? Seems kind of formal, like a letter or something. What kind of trouble had this kid gotten himself into? Then I read the opening line of Chapter 1 and figured out (in the 5.2 seconds it took me to get to the end of the sentence) that Leonard was probably facing a whole boatload of trouble (what can I say? I’m a pretty smart cookie).
Absentee parent, teenage angst, betrayal of the worst kind. Leonard’s solution?
Flavour: “I wrap up the birthday presents in this pink wrapping paper I find in the hall closet. I wasn’t planning on wrapping the presents, but I feel like maybe I should attempt to make the day feel more official, more festive. I’m not afraid of people thinking I’m gay, because I really don’t care what anyone thinks at this point, and so I don’t mind the pink paper, although I would have preferred a different color. Maybe black would have been more appropriate given what’s about to transpire.” (4)
“No one was really paying me any attention so I snuck up behind Asher and snatched the violin out of his hands before he realized what was going on…. ‘You touch him or his violin again and I tell everyone the secret,’ I said. The words just came out of my mouth before I could think. Suddenly my heart was pounding and my tongue was bone dry. But I added, ‘I swear to god. I’ll tell everyone. Everyone!’ Asher’s eyes got really small because he knew exactly what I was referring to, but he said, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about, Peacock.’” (82-83)
“Basically, Herr Silverman says that we can simultaneously be human and monster—that both of those possibilities are in all of us.” (111)
“’Are you trying to tell me something here today?’ [Herr Silverman] says. ‘Not really,’ I say without looking up. ‘I just wanted you to know how much your class means to me.’ He doesn’t say anything, but I feel him looking at my face—I can tell he’s concerned in a way that maybe no one else is, and that I’m going to have to do some acting if I want to make it out of here and complete my mission.” (117)