Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
So glad I got this ARC - now I just need time to digest what I read, and to stop vacillating between a 4 and 5 star review.
Leonard is an odd duck, deliberately not trying to fit in and defiantly marching to his own drummer. His missing father was a one-hit rock wonder, while mom is not literally missing but with her fashion designer life in NYC might as well be. He spends time mostly alone, but often watching Bogart movies with Walt, the old man next door. On his 18th birthday (which no one remembers) Leonard has decided to hand out a few gifts and then kill himself and his former BFF-now object of hatred, Asher.
The build-up here is slow, and we really get a sense of how smart Leonard is, how he's not afraid to be different (or think different) than his peers, and how lonely he is and desperate to see something - anything - good in life. It also takes a long time for us to learn why Asher Must Die, and the last third of the book is truly heartbreaking. I'm not so fond of the Letters from the Future, however, and Herr Silvermann was (at times) too much of the Good Teacher Who Cares, hence the rating issue.
What I loved most was that this was not the happiest of endings, that the author doesn't promise that everything will be all right. That may bother readers, but to me it was perfect.
ARC provided by publisher.