Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Alice's Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Summary: An enchanting first novel about love, madness, and Kenny G. The Silver Linings Playbook is the riotous and poignant story of how one man regains his memory and comes to terms with the magnitude of his wife's betrayal. During the years he spends in a neural health facility, Pat Peoples formulates a theory about silver linings: he believes his life is a movie produced by God, his mission is to become physically fit and emotionally supportive, and his happy ending will be the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. When Pat goes to live with his parents, everything seems changed: no one will talk to him about Nikki; his old friends are saddled with families; the Philadelphia Eagles keep losing, making his father moody; and his new therapist seems to be recommending adultery as a form of therapy. When Pat meets the tragically widowed and clinically depressed Tiffany, she offers to act as a liaison between him and his wife, if only he will give up watching football, agree to perform in this year's Dance Away Depression competition, and promise not to tell anyone about their contract. All the while, Pat keeps searching for his silver lining. In this brilliantly written debut novel, Matthew Quick takes us inside Pat's mind, deftly showing us the world from his distorted yet endearing perspective. The result is a touching and funny story that helps us look at both depression and love in a wonderfully refreshing way.

Review:  One of my favorite movies from last year was Silver Linings Playbook .  When I learned it was based on a book by Matthew Quick, I knew I had to read it.  I normally only read books written by women authors, a book has to be pretty special for me to break that rule.  This book was. 

Pat Peoples is close to overthrowing Alan from Adi Alsaid’s SomewhereOver the Sun as my favorite male fictional character.  Pat was broken.  He was so not perfect.  I love a character layered in flaws and hope and that’s exactly who Pat is.  He is a study of optimism.  The story begins with Pat’s release from a mental institution (which he refers to as the bad place) and into his mother’s care.  What follows is Pat’s road to recovery as he makes his way back into the arms of his wife, Nikki.  At least, that’s what he hopes but we all learn that sometimes life gives you what you need and not what you want. 

With each experience, Pat learns more about what his behaviors were to get him into the “bad place” and what he has to do to continuously see the silver linings.    It’s quite a journey for him especially since his support system doesn’t really know how to help him.  He has a father who cares more about Eagles football than his own son’s mental health, a mother who treats Pat more like a five year old rather than a grown man, and a therapist who straddles the line between friend and doctor.  Now throw into the mix a feisty stalker names Tiffany with her own set of problems and you can understand how difficult recovery is for him and how wonderful it makes his journey. 

I adored many things about Silver Linings Playbook.  I loved Mr. Quick’s approach to mental illness.  He conveyed the severity of Pat’s illness however, he throws in the right amount of realistic humor.  I also loved the well-rounded characters.  This novel straddles a fine line between doing what is necessary to help someone who has mental issues without either cradling them or pushing them further into their depression.  Silver Linings Playbook gives us only a peek into what his family was going through.  I loved Pat’s mom and the relationship Pat had with his brother.  I loved the Asian Invasion and Pat’s doctor.  Even though I am far from a football fan, I didn’t mind all the football talk. 

The one thing I didn’t like was Tiffany.  She was nuts and I don’t mean that as a slight to mental illness.  She was dealing with her own demons after the death of her beloved husband.  Grief was her undoing.  She took crazy chances.  The one thing I will commend her for is her courage.  She wasn’t afraid to put it all on the line for Pat.  I wonder if I would have felt differently about Tiffany if the novel was written in third person rather than from Pat’s point of view.  Perhaps spending some time getting to know Tiffany away from Pat would have given me greater insight. I think it was smart to write this novel from Pat’s point of view only.  I had an idea of what his family was going through and had Mr. Quick dove further into their experience, I know I wouldn’t have liked Pat as much as I did.  Truth is, the novel wasn’t about them.  It was about Pat. 

Simply, this novel is wonderful.  I absolutely loved it.  One thing I learned and am trying my best to apply to my life is Pat’s sound advice…

“Practice being kind, not right.”

Final Take:  4/5


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