Monday, June 10, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

The Silver Linings Playbook  by Matthew Quick

For the record, I didn't love this book.  I  found it reductive and unbelievable and manipulative.  And, there is no way in hell Pat Peoples is Bradley Cooper!!!!  I can not stress that enough.

But, who is Pat Peoples?  He's a mess.  We meet him as his mother has him removed from a mental institution ("the bad place") in Maryland and transports him back home to Collingswood, New Jersey.  He has no idea how long he's been institutionalized, or even why.  Little by little the reader is clued in to what's happened to him and what he's done.  His family and friends tiptoe around him so as not to let on that he's been away for years and that the "apart time" he's having from his wife isn't going to end.

Pat was a high school teacher and sports coach, married to Nikki, an English teacher and living in Maryland.  His parents are from New Jersey and his father and brother are devout Eagles fans, bleeding green through thick and thin.  Pat's life starts over when his mother brings him home to find his brother is married and living over the bridge in Philadelphia and that his parents have removed all traces of Nikki and the wedding. When Pat asks where the photos and videos, etc. are, his mother gives him all kinds of strange excuses. 

He knows he can't get back in touch with his wife until apart time (does that phrase annoy you as much as it does me?)  and seems to be under the impression that if he eats better, exercises more and reads the books Nikki assigns to her students that he'll be able to have her back.  This is an educated man who speaks like a blithering idiot at all times.  He is absolutely clueless about what's happening around him. He has one thing he's focused on and that's reuniting with Nikki and he is completely oblivious to everything said to him.  

While he's on the world's slowest road to recovery, his best friend in the neighborhood and his wife, introduce Pat to the wife's sister, Tiffany, who may be his match in the messed up department.  After she stalks him day after day on his runs, the two eventually become friends, but not without their crazies intersecting.

The only thing I liked about this book was the fact that I could visualize every outing Pat had.  The whole story happens in locales that I see almost every day. However, I can not fathom why Quick would portray his history teacher/coach as the bumbling imbecile that he is. The constant references to "the bad place" and "apart time" were enough to make you want to smack him.  The  reason, when you learn it for the ending of his marriage is ridiculous. The build up to the big reveal and freak out, before the sappy ending is so forced and unbelievable, that I can't even think about it without getting angry.  

I know that this book was immensely popular and beloved. I know how the movie took the world by storm, I just can't for the life of me figure out how and why.  The characters are one dimensional, the protagonist is difficult to like or relate to and his family is beyond dysfunctional.  The premise driving the plot, other than the Eagles football season, that of Pat figuring out how he got where he was and moving on with his life was a fumbling shambles of a story.  Whereas, plenty of people I know loved this book, I was not one of them.  I found very little to recommend this book and was just glad to return it to the person who lent it to me.

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