The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
I decided to read this after I had seen the film, which I enjoyed very much. I enjoyed it so much that I saw it twice.
This is the first book I’ve legitimately read in over 10 years. Sad, I know, but I’ve never really been that into books. It’s something that I regret now.
I’m going to try and avoid comparing it to the film until the end because they’re two very different stories with the exception of some main points shown or described in each.
This tale centers around Pat Peoples, a mentally unstable 34 year old male. He’s been recently released from a neural health facility in Baltimore and is on his way home to New Jersey to live with his parents as part of a court order. He’s obsessed with reuniting with his now ex-wife Nikki and does everything he can to better himself so “apart time” can come to an end once and for all.
I enjoyed the book. I even teared up at times because I could see some of myself in Pat.
He wants what a lot of us want. He wants the love of a specific person, but is finding it extremely difficult to attain. Everyone and everything seems to be working against him, but throughout it all he never loses sight of the little silver linings that God (in my case, life) is providing him.
His struggle is more complicated than a normal love story because he once had the love of his ex-wife and we all know that, a lot of the time, you never really know what you have until it’s gone. A part of you wants him to succeed in his efforts but you’re also weary because you know that he’s still a bit unstable and you can’t fully trust his judgement or memory of his past. Even so, you root for him and what he wants because you can see his efforts towards his transformation into a better person.
The thing I like about Pat is that he’s honest, optimistic, and considerate of other people’s feelings. He’s always looking for a happy ending and is often upset (or pissed off) when one isn’t provided. He’s very self centered even though he’s trying to become a better man who focuses on “being kind instead of right.” It’s interesting to see how self absorbed he gets when he does something nice and how much he punishes himself, mentally and physically, when he does something he feels is wrong. He reminds me of a child trying to find out how to become a well rounded adult, especially with some of the terms he uses (he calls the neural facility “the bad place” and as I mentioned before, his separation from his wife “apart time”). I see so much of myself (and of humanity as a whole) in him. His guilt cuts to my core, and his desires make me evaluate my own life. I actually envy the drive he has, even though I’m much more mentally stable than he.
One thing I wish I had more of is information about his friend Tiffany. She’s a very complex character that doesn’t say much of anything, but when she does it’s powerful. It’s told from Pat’s perspective so you just have to deal with it. Who knows, maybe she’s not that complex but her similarities to Pat are so striking that you just crave more from her. It makes it even more difficult to cope with because she’s very self aware and involved in everything that’s going on. Even though you’re reading the story, you just know that she knows Pat more than you ever can or he ever will. Maybe even more than the author knows about him (that’s pushing it, but it’s how I feel).
Of all the minor characters, I loved his mother the most. She reminds me of my own mom, and what can I say? I love my momma! She’s gentle and kind, and Pat continually refers to her as “beautiful.” She cries when she’s sad and even sometimes when she’s happy. She has the kind of personality that makes you want to move heaven and earth so she’ll always cry of happiness. She’s just a good person who wants the best for her son and, in turn, you want the best for her.
I really loved this book. It’s definitely sadder and more detailed than the movie, but I kind of prefer the chronological order and character’s personalities in the film. I appreciate both though. My mood changes pretty often so I can’t really decided which I like better at the moment. The important thing is that I felt inspired and a little broken after each. That’s what means most to me.
*As a side note, I want to say that I’m amazed at how much more detail was in the book than in the film. I know everyone always talks about it, but this was the first time that I’ve actually experienced it and it shocked me. Things were in different orders, characters changed in drastic ways, some for better and others for worse. That’s just my opinion, since I seem to be hopeless when it comes to feel good situations.