Monday, November 26, 2012

Just Finished: The Silver Linings Playbook

Before The Silver Linings Playbook (the movie) came out in limited release last week, I decided to read the book. I liked both, but it's amazing how different the stories were. Anyway...this is about the book...

Enter our narrator Pat Peoples, a high school history teacher and coach who spent several years in a nut house. For Pat, there's no sense in watching movies because he's decided that his own life is a movie, one that is leading to the silver lining of ending "apart time" with his wife Nikki.
"If clouds are blocking the sun, there will always be a silver lining that reminds me to keep on trying, because I know that while things might seem dark now, my wife is coming back to me soon....(And you can even re-create the effect by holding your hand a few inches away from a naked lightbulb and tracing your handprint with your eyes until you go temporarily blind.)"
Unfortunately for Pat Peoples, Kenny G is the soundtrack to his movie, and an obstacle standing between him and reunification with his wife. Like the fact that he doesn't remember how long he was in "the bad place," Pat can't remember why the mention or sound of Kenny G sends him into violent episodes. The saxophonist even appears in hallucinations.
"After I returned to New Jersey, I thought I was safe, because I did not think Kenny G could leave the bad place, which I realize is silly now—because Kenny G is extremely talented and resourceful and a powerful force to be reckoned with."
Pat's mother is reason he was able to leave the hospital and she has brought him home, a risky move since he is still convinced Nikki is coming back if he can only workout the obligatory 8 hours a day ("I sort of let my appearance got to where I was 10 to 70 pounds overweight.") and read all the books on the syllabus of Nikki's class.

Reuniting with Nikki may be Pat's sole focus, but he also has to contend with an Eagles obsessed father who refuses to talk to him, the reality of losing over three years of his life, and whether or not to take his medication. 

Things begin to change unexpectedly for Pat one night at his best friend's house when he is introduced to Tiffany – his match in mental instability. When Tiffany starts following him silently on his daily runs, the two strike up a friendship of sorts because Pat is "trying to be kind not right" and because his psychiatrist urges him to.

Although he refuses to admit how much he needs Tiffany, Pat slowly begins to realize that she may be the only one who can really understand what he's going through. She also might be the key to getting Nikki back.

The Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick's first novel, has quite a few humorous moments (I didn't even mention Pat's awesome, Eagle loving Indian psychiatrist), a lot of talk about football, and great moments of honesty as Pat gradually begins to embrace reality. Pat's relationship with Tiffany (she convinces him to be her dance partner for a competition) could have developed more. The movie actually had more dialog between the two than the book, but all in all it's a good book. Nick Hornby (About a Boy) lovers will appreciate the humor and writing style, though not as funny, and even those who don't like football (like Tiffany) can appreciate it.

Go see the movie too. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are great in it.

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