The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.
This is one of those rare occasions (actually becoming less rare for me) in which I saw the film before I read the book. But the result once again proves that the books are almost always better than the movies, despite my undying love for Jennifer Lawrence.
In short, the book is written from the perspective of Pat, who is mentally ill and who has just gotten out of a neural hospital where he stayed for an unclear amount of time and for an unclear purpose, as he has lost and/or repressed that part of his memory (which of course unfolds for the reader over the course of the novel). He is working on improving himself in order to reunite with his wife, in pursuit of his “happy ending” and “silver lining,” and is challenged by the distant relationship he has with his father, and a budding relationship with woman who is also mentally unstable. There’s football, there’s dance, there’s literary references, humor, heartbreak…everything.
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads because of the way it made me feel. It’s written in simple language, yet it is extremely insightful and honest (for being in the voice of a delusional man) in it’s observations of the world and the people in it, even though Pat is heartbreakingly naive about his own situation. The reader really roots for Pat, and even though I knew the ending, I was still passionately invested in his recovery. Upon finishing the book, I gave out one of those audible sighs that accompanies the end of any book you’ve thrown your whole self into and gotten a satisfying ending. Especially because most people have felt or have had someone in their lives feel similar things to the characters in the novel, the message is poignant that finding silver linings is really important – but being obsessed with them is equally dangerous.
I don’t have any criticism for this book, because I think it did its job simply and sweetly. I know I felt strangely sad and comforted at the same time after finishing, which is what silver linings are all about, I suppose.
5 stars, read this book.
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