After spending the last month or so slogging my way through a gargantuan book that seems to have no end, I decided to pick up a much thinner book this week to get me through my chunky book hatred. The book I selected was The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. After the hype around the movie, particularly the Oscar win for Jennifer Lawrence (and her trip up the stairs) for her leading role in the film, I was really looking forward to reading it. I find that my excitement about reading something usually leaves me feeling let down by the end of the book, as it’s amazingness doesn’t usually reach my lofty expectations. But thankfully this book matched my hopes for it and now has me really excited about watching the film.
In The Silver Linings Playbook, we follow Pat Peoples. Pat has recently been discharged from a psychiatric hospital and is now determined to not only get his life back on track, but also to make himself into a better person to reconcile with his wife, Nikki. He has recognised that he was not the husband to her that he should have been and so his days are split between working out (because she prefers muscly men), reading literature (because she’s a literature teacher and this means they will be able to have conversations), practicing being “kind instead of right”, and always looking for the silver lining. He lives with his parents while he is waiting for “apart time” to be over. His mother adores him and is clearly glad to have him home, but his father is less than happy to have him there and seemingly resents his presence. Pat is aided in his rehabilitation by various small part characters – his therapist Dr Patel; his brother Jake; and his best friend Ronnie. It is through Ronnie that he meets Tiffany. She is the sister of Ronnie’s wife and it soon becomes quite obvious to the reader that all is not quite right in the mind of the beautiful Tiffany. A strange relationship forms between Pat and Tiffany, and it is this relationship that causes the secrets Pat’s family have been keeping from him, to surface.
I hate using the word beautiful to describe things, but there really is no other word to describe this book. As a character, Pat is pretty well perfectly written and it was difficult to not feel any compassion for him. After being so strongly affected by the event that causes his mental instability, he emerges from the psychiatric hospital in an almost childlike state. He appears to be largely naïve to certain aspects of the grown up world and it is this that makes the relationship between he and Tiffany so interesting. I can understand how Jennifer Lawrence won the Oscar for her portrayal as Tiffany. Aside from Lawrence being a great actor anyway, the character is so twisted in a strangely sad way, that it would certainly be a character that would make viewers (and readers) sit up and take note. The growth of the relationship between the two characters is a lovely thing to read and the mystery surrounding Pat’s mental illness had me guessing what happened all the way through the book. I felt that the author took real care when writing this book and that he also cared what happened to his characters. It would have been easy enough for him to write in some big tragedy that would leave his reader in tears, but that’s not what the reader would want for such great characters and I think he knew that.
Overall, I (obviously) really enjoyed this book. It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed reading something so much that I make sure I get to bed early to get some reading in before sleep. Pat would have to be one of my favourite characters from any book – the last time I liked a character so much was Charlie in The Perks of Being A Wallflower (my post about that is here) and I did find myself drawing similarities between the two characters. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who knows how to read and can appreciate something that is written so well it’ll make you jealous.