Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Awhile back, probably around the time Sort of Like a Rock Star came out, I saw someone mention how great The Silver Linings Playbook was on Twitter and that they were looking forward to the movie. I then read a ton of interviews with Matthew Quick and became more interested in reading the book. But you know, like most readers I have so many books I want to read. I thought for sure I would get to it before the movie came out and I did not. Finally, with all of the Oscar buzz and so much stuff floating around the internet about it, I decided that I just had to read it and so I did! I had a few free hours one day and I breezed through it very quickly.

And it is a very lovely book, it is unique and quirky and delightful and goodhearted and pretty much a pure pleasure to read. I have not yet seen the film, but I can tell some changes have been made. I do not know how I will feel about them. Regardless, I'm super glad I read the book first.

It is adorable. And it's one of those books that manages to be comedic and light hearted without ever being false. After all, the main character of the book is mentally ill and learning how to cope in society again. That makes this book sound sooo much more serious than it is, though!

At it's heart, The Silver Linings Playbook is about how we might have an idealized version of what life should be like but that reality might not be so bad after all. Pat, the main character, is getting out of a mental hospital he's been in for the last few years. Pat doesn't actually think he's been there that long and it's only through living with his family again that he comes to understand what has actually taken place in his life and confronts the past and the reality of his future. Along the way he makes friends with Tiffany, a widow, and they do a variety of things together like go running and join a dance competition.

Pat believes there's always a silver lining to everything and he tries to keep a very positive outlook, which sometimes interferes with him actually accepting reality. Also, his family are huge Philadelphia Eagles fans and that plays a huge role in the story as well, in a way that I like because of how it gives a strong sense of place to the story, and creates interesting situations for Pat and his family and therapist. Also, through talking about football, Pat is able to talk about life which I love. One part in particular that I like, and the sort of tender sensibility this book has, is when everyone is very angry at Terrell Owens and it bothers Pat because of how people use his mental health as a reason to trash talk him. He says to his therapist, "If Terrell Owens is really depressed or mentally unstable, why do the people I love use it as an excuse to talk badly about him?" The book isn't preachy on this subject, but it does raise this issue in this way. (and obviously this also shows how empathetic Pat is) The therapist's reaction is disappointing from the standpoint that he doesn't seem to understand Pat's perspective on this--why it bothers him that people he cares do this, but it's also so real. The handling of this was superb in my opinion.

Pat's interactions with his family and friends make this book so much more than a romantic comedy. It's about Pat and his family and friends and yes there's a love story and a very nice one! but it's not really the central focus of the book.

Reading this book, it's very easy to see why someone would want to adapt it to film. First of all, like I said, it's delightful! It's a unique story and also there's even a whole section where Pat tells the story like it's a film montage. Also, he talks about how he's living the movie of his life and I don't know, it was just begging to be adapated! I hope it's good, because like I said the book was a pure joy to read and I'd hate to feel like justice wasn't done!

Rating: 4.5/5
Things You Might Want to know: Maybe a little language
Source of Book: Bought it
Publisher: FSG


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