Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

When I first picked this book up, I went on Good Reads to check out reviews and I saw one that really excited me, even though I was very excited already.  The review said that this book, The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, is the adult Perks of Being a Wallflower.  And indeed, the reviewer was right!
I have to say that I came at this book a lover of the movie.  I am one of the people who adored this movie.  Although it took some liberties at being a bit of a chic-flick, it was an overall success as a film in my eyes and...well, Jennifer Lawrence.  The book is just as amazing.
Main character, Pat Peoples, is convinced that his life is a movie planned out by God.  He has been released from the bad place and is finding new ways to improve himself so that apart time will be over and he can be reunited with his wife, Nikki.  He is bettering himself by working out and running for hours a day as well as reading great literature and trying to be nice instead of right.  He believes that when Nikki sees how much he is improving she will take him back.  Along with Pat bettering himself, he also is spending a lot of time routing for his Philadelphia Eagles with his emotionally distant father and his younger brother, Jake, and his therapist he sees once a week who insists to remain on a first name basis.  Pat is also spending his time with his friend Ronnie and Ronnie's wife's sister, Tiffany, who is a bit obsessed with him.  Through all of this, Pat believes that there will always be a silver lining.  When things look bad, there has to be a silver lining because silver linings appear in every great movie and since Pat's life is a movie planned out by God, he is convinced that God will give him his happy ending and then his movie will conclude.
Like Perks of Being a Wallflower, the language in this novel is very honest, blunt, and personal. Pat's voice is very repetitious and child-like.  You can't help but feel hopeful when reading this novel and try to look for the silver linings in your life.  In Pat's journey of being nice instead of right, he makes new friends and learns character.  He learns that literature reflects reality when at first he can't understand why the books Nikki teaches in English are so depressing. 
I want to spend a paragraph talking about certain differences between book and film.  In my opinion, the film did a great job adapting this book.  I love both equally.  Yes there were changes made but it wasn't as if the movie took out huge plot points or something but rather moved things around and slightly changed how the plot played out without changing the actual plot.  For starters, Pat's friend Danny is not a huge character in the novel.  For 75% of the book he is only mentioned by Pat and never actual present as a character.  He becomes present in the final 25% of the book but even then, he doesn't talk much.  He provides comedy relief in the book when Pat refers to some of the things he said in the bad place but in the film comedy relief is all he is.  Tiffany is a bit different in the film.  In the book, Tiffany is much more of a stalker and much quieter.  In the film she is very loud and not quite as obsessive.  The major dance scene of the film acts as a climax but in the book, not only is the scene just a normal scene like any other but it isn't nearly as elaborate.  There is no Eagles bet or anything.  Which brings me to Pat's father.  Pat's father is very emotionally distant in the novel.  He
doesn't even welcome Pat home when he returns from the bad place.  His attitude is ultimately based on the Eagles winning or losing.  In the film, he at least speaks to Pat and isn't such a...well, he isn't such a jerk.  Finally, the film makes it very clear early on what happened between Pat and his wife and what sent him to the bad place.  It also makes it clear early on why Tiffany was sent to therapy.  In the book, we learn all of these things at the very end of the book.  In my opinion, both ways work for both mediums.  Films are very visual and it makes sense that they explained things right away for the audience while books are very internal and personal and therefore it makes sense for something like this to be revealed later on.
Okay, so let's now bring our focus back to the novel.  What else did I love about this novel other than what I mentioned above?  Well, for starters I loved the Eagles stuff.  This could be because I grew up near Philadelphia and know how passionate (and mean) the fans can be.  I also related a lot to the family aspect of the book.  My family closely resembles Pat's family in quite a few ways, positively and negatively.   The characters in this book were all unique and beautiful despite their faults.  But my favorite part of this book was the theme of silver linings.  Reading about Pat's optimistic attitude and his goal to better himself, you can't help but gain inspiration from him and want to improve your own character as well.
I should also address the theme of mental health.  It is very obvious to me that many people don't view people who have been in a mental health facility or who have gone to a therapist as worth society's time.  Pat often contemplates this idea when he notices how people react to him when meeting him or when he makes a rash decision.  I think something a novel like this can teach us is that we all go through pain, we all struggle, and we all deserve a happy ending.  No one is perfect but that doesn't mean we can't work hard to try to be better and even if we still struggle, we have to learn to accept that and gain closure in the promise that we will always be messed up and that is okay.
Is this novel quality?  Oh yeah!  Most definitely!  It is officially a favorite of mine.  I think I was able to decide this before I made it halfway through the book.  It was such a wonderful read.  What makes it quality for me is the raw honesty of Pat's voice. Even if you don't sympathize with the guy, you still are able to see what he is going through and understand his why he makes certain choices and acts the way he acts. Quality!

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

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