Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Publication Date: September 2, 2008
Page Count: 289.
Genre: Contemporary Adult
Goodreads & Amazon

Pat People's has just gotten out of the bad place. He swears he was only there for a few months, but his family and friends say things that make it seem like he's been there for years, and he knows that can't be possible. The start of his time in the bad place was also the start of apart time from his wife, Nikki. During his time in the bad place, he started seeing the beauty of silver linings, and worked hard on his fitness to be more physically fit in attempt to get Nikki back. Now that he's out of the bad place, he is still working out for hours a day to remain physically fit, reading classic literature that his mother checks out for him from the library, and is working on being a better Eagles fan so his father will start talking to him again. Then Tiffany, a family friend's young, widowed sister starts following him on his morning runs, and suddenly he is faced with a beautiful woman who understands his mental issues, and has many of them of her own. He is too focused on being reunited with his wife, though, to realize that his silver lining could be right in front of him.

It hurts to look at the clouds, but it also helps, like most things that cause pain. So I need to run, and as my lungs burn and my back rebels with that stabbing knife feeling and my leg muscles harden and the half inch of loose skin around my waist jiggles, I feel as though my penance for the day is being done and that maybe God will be pleased enough to lend me some help, which I think is why He has been showing me interesting clouds for the past week. 

Do any of you ever feel a little twinge of weird guilt whenever you see a movie based on a book before you read the book? That's how it went down with this book, and that's a little bit of how I feel. Luckily, for the sake of this book review, I rarely remember films unless I've seen them twice, and I've only seen this one once. This review will only be about Silver Linings Playbook the book, not the movie. Though I can tell you that I did really enjoy the movie (I am in love with Jennifer Lawrence), and it made me really excited to read the book. It has just taken me a while to get my hands on it at the library because of the huge film-induced popularity surrounding it.

I think it's strange to live in a house with someone you cannot talk to--especially when that someone is your father--and the thought makes me a little sad.

Pat Peoples is such an interesting character and I loved being in his head as I read this novel. He is a former history teacher at the high school where is estranged wife taught english literature. We pick up the story with him finally getting to leave the bad place (a mental institution) with his weepy mother. He is incredibly perceptive, though a lot of people don't expect him to be, which I think could open up quite the dialogue about how people treat those with mental illnesses. He always notices the way people guard their words around him, and the knowing glances that they give each other when he talks about Nikki and his desire to get back together with her. Or the quick hush-hush that fell around his group of family and/or friends when something Not-Pat-Friendly was mentioned. I also enjoyed the fact that he wasn't a reliable narrator at all. He uses heavy exaggeration, and believes truths that we as readers know to be untrue because of the things his family says or doesn't say around him. Even though we don't believe everything he says or believes, we still trust him enough to keep reading his story and wait for him to discover the real truth. The only thing that got me a little bit about Pat was that for a thirty-four year old man, he sounded a little infantile over some things, such as calling the institution "the bad place" and his separation from Nikki "apart time." Intrigued by this, I talked to one of my co-workers who is also a psych major and she says this kind of thing is completely normal. Especially because of how long he was institutionalized, and because of the harmful things he is protecting himself against. So yeah...

I nod and I promise I will report any hallucinations to my mother, but I do not really believe I will hallucinate no matter what type of drugs he gives me, especially since I know he will not be giving me LSD or anything like that. I figure weaker people probably complain about their drugs, but I am not weak and I can control my mind pretty well.

Some parts of the book I did skim over, though, especially a lot of the scenes involving football. This isn't because they were awfully written, just mostly because I dislike football. Before going to the mental hospital, Pat bonded with his younger brother and his father over Philadelphia Eagles football, and now that he is out, he's trying to catch up with season's worth of football. I didn't fully enjoy reading the scenes where they were actually at the games, but I did appreciate the way football was used outside of the stadium. Pat's father is a man who doesn't wear his emotions very well, and now that his son is out of the hospital, he isn't sure how to relate to him, and this just means ignoring Pat. The only time they are able to grow closer is through watching the games together. He is also able to bond with his little brother again, and some of the scenes at the games force Pat to interact with other people who also don't know how to navigate conversation with him now that he has been stamped with a crime and time done in a mental hospital. 

So I'm thinking this is the part of my movie where things appear as if nothing is going to work out. I have to remind myself that all movie characters go through this sort of dark period before they find their happy ending. 

Then of course, there is the semi-love connection between Pat and Tiffany. Tiffany is another great character. She is young and beautiful, and her husband passed away in a tragic accident, leaving her just as damaged as Pat. Pat and Tiffany are introduced at a dinner party hosted by Tiffany's sister, Veronica, who is the wife of Pat's best friend Ronnie. At first, Pat is annoyed by Tiffany, especially when she starts following him wordlessly on his runs every morning, and he can't wait for her to go away. Then, he is coerced to be her partner in a dance contest. He starts spending more and more time with her, and realizes she's not as annoying as he thought. But she's not Nikki, and he has a hard time working his way around apart time with his wife, and the new feelings he has blossoming for Tiffany. 

Silver Linings Playbook was a great read, narrated by one of the most interesting and complex characters I have read in a while. Though I did feel a little left out on the scenes involving Pat attending football games, I liked seeing how it impacted his relationship with those around him, and I really rooted for him to find his silver lining in his life's movie ending.

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