Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (Review)

Title: The Silver Linings Playbook
Author: Matthew Quick
Genre: Family, Romance
Content Warning: Mental illness, language, spoilers of   
                            several classic novels
Published by: Picador (in 2012)
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
My Rating: ★★★★
Pat Peoples knows that life doesn't always go according to plan, but he's determined to get his back on track. After a stint in a psychiatric hospital, Pat is staying with his parents and trying to live according to his new philosophy: get fit, be nice and always look for the silver lining. Most importantly, Pat is determined to be reconciled with his wife Nikki.
Pat's parents just want to protect him so he can get back on his feet, but when Pat befriends the mysterious Tiffany, the secrets they've been keeping from him threaten to come out . . .

          Hurrah to my second post! And for finishing this never-before-read book that's been growing mushrooms in my shelf for months. *not proud* It was a short read, and relatively easy to breeze through, and I was pleased to find myself enjoying it as I'm not really into books that are centered around everyday life and it's challenges ("nichijou", as the Japanese would say) as opposed to books that throw you into an emotional rollercoaster ride with it's fast-paced writing and plot twists and side-splittingness and life or death situations and so on. Not to say that absolutely nothing happened in the book, but it is completely down to earth. So before I go on writing my review (that I was really excited to do), my statement to make is:


The Plot
         This novel is told from the POV a 34-ish mentally ill man named Pat, who has just been released from the psychiatric hospital, and is obssessed with bettering himself as a man in order to reconcile with his estranged wife which he believes is his silver lining and ultimate goal of his life. When I say mentally ill, I do not mean that he is psychotic or "crazy", as how people usually associate mental illness with, but that Pat's mind has fallen ill, due to stress from the things he has been through and THESE THINGS HAPPEN IN LIFE. Despite being ill, coming out of the psychiatric hospital symbolises a second chance to redeem and improve himself to be a good man (but mainly for his ex-wife Nikki). He tells us about living with his parents, in the basement of their house, about meeting his new therapist and their sessions, how hanging out with his brother, best friends and their own family is like, being an Eagles fan, and eccentric and slightly mysterious Tiffany whom he feels deeply connected to. AND NIKKI NIKKI NIKKI NIKKI NIKKI. It's definitely different from the film, where the 2nd-half of the film heads to a more romantic direction, where Tiffany has a bigger part in, while the book has more familial elements as its main theme.
Parts I liked
          Pat Peoples was my absolute favorite. I really root for people who know that they are far from perfect, but always strive to be better in spite of that. He is so emotionally vulnerable (he cries a lot in the book), and it's rare for men to be written like that, so it was refreshing to watch him struggle with his illness and his erratic emotions LIKE A NORMAL GUY. The way Matthew Quick wrote Pat's POV allowed my reactions to connect and sync with what Pat was feeling at different moments of SLP. When Pat is happy, I find myself smiling, and when Pat is in pain, I find my eyebrows closing on each other. The great thing about this fact though, is that it never completely sends me to both ends of the mood scale. I did not whoop around in my room with estatic joy, or bawl buckets of tears reading this and I appreciate that. His POV is straightfoward enough, but not so simple that I feel like I'm reading a 9 year old teenager's diary.
          Pat's mom (Mrs Peoples) is a complete saint of a wife, mother and WOMAN. She is filled with so much love and all this love she just gives and gives to her husband (who 80% of the time really does not deserve it) and her two sons. And when you give your love to people, you are bound to get hurt, and she cries as many times as Pat does in the book, if not more. While it's obvious that Pat's occasional violent outbursts and unstable behaviour bothered her alot, she tries so hard to shower him with tlc and not blame him for his actions because she knows Pat doesn't really have anyone who would take care of him like she does. I won't write about her anymore because if I do it will span 10,000 words but what I would end with is that she is one of the pivotal characters that kept Pat on the path of recovery, (she was the one who got Pat out of the hospital and kickstarted this whole novel's plot in the place!) and she does this without complaint in the background (AND TAKES NO CRAP FROM HER HUSBAND)
          Therapists can make or break you, and Dr Cliff Patel, who is Pat's therapist, is from the "make" category. Like Pat's mom, he is non-judgemental, and a hillariously cool character. I mean come one, how else can you describe an Indian, who is a serious Eagles fan, and goes to season football games (I hope I said it right. Malaysians know zilch about American football) with his fifty other Indian Eagles fan friends in their bus called "The Asian Invasion"?

Parts I Did Not Like
          Basically I liked every character in the book, but I wasn't into how some characters were written. The first character is Tiffany. Tiffany is unbullshitable (yea it's totally a word), bluntly honest and a generally awesome character, but she has such little screentime in the book. I wanted to read about her so much more but most of her interactions with Pat were outside of the plot, so it was hard for me to believe their relationship development. Don't get me wrong, the author tied any loose ends there were with Tiffany but I thought that her and Pat should have more moments together to justify how important her character is to Pat and make it believable. Instead, what I read were a huge dump of confessions, daily runs without any conversation, and a dance, which wasn't as emotional as I hoped it would be.
          Pat's dad, Patrick Peoples, was another character that I hoped had more screentime, but only at the end, because I felt that he was pretty much non-existant there. He is a complete football fanatic and his obsession with football bleeds over onto his family members. His whole mood depends on whether the Eagles win the game or not and if they don't, he launches into this crazy sulky fit and bullies his wife and ignores his children. He is like that in almost the whole book and I was hoping maybe there would be a character development moment or epiphany to change (BECAUSE HE NEEDS IT) but in the end he just kind of melts into nothingness and I assume, remains the same. Definitely no loose ends tied there.

My Rating
       I give The Silver Linings Playbook 4/5 stars, because the characters were really well written, and I applaud the ability of Matthew Quick to express so much with really simple, layman words. I also think that people who aren't well-informed on mental illness will receive a perspective that is accurate and allows them to easily understand the general idea of how being mentally ill is like for an adult.


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