Remember how blamey and vengeful Thirteen Reasons Why was? And what a hypocrite Hannah was for being all, You people bullied me in often very minor ways, and then enacted her own extremely cruel Bullying Parade by forcing twelve people to feel responsible for her suicide? And how suicidal teens really need our sympathy and help but YOU ARE MAKING IT DIFFICULT, HANNAH, BY BEING AN UNREPENTANTLY SHITTY PERSON? Remember all that?
Anywhat. This is not that. This is a guy who has had horrible things happen to him (I’m not trying to diminish Hannah’s pain, because some Actually Awful things happened to her and because when you’re a teen, things that look like small beans from the perspective of your 30s are Lifechanging. I’m just saying that what she did in return was equally as cruel or crueler and the novel did nothing to address that and I’m still mad about it) and, instead of slathering the blame all over town, he wraps four presents for the four people who made him feel better about life, and then packs his grandpa’s handgun so that, when he’s done delivering the presents, he can shoot his childhood friend (who you have sort of figured out by this point abused him sexually) and them himself.
So even though the murder-suicide is Pending, and even though two of the four recipients kind of shit on his gifts, it’s a hopeful novel? Because Leonard (of necessity) has to explain why he’s giving these four gifts, what these four people have meant to him, and how they suggest there might be something more to life than the relentless trod towards a job you hate, or back towards a family you’re indifferent towards.
And Leonard is totally the kind of asshat that says things like ‘My classmates are all repressed monkeys.’
But he says it in the context of his classmates being all, I would never have been a Hitler youth I would have fought the power and his prof being like, But you all wear Adidas and Hollister and the school mascot because everyone else is, so if your classmates AND ALSO YOUR BRUTAL GOVERNMENT were like, Here, wear this swastika, you probably would, and the classmates are like,
and I am like, That is to an extent how I remember high school being, so yes, your classmates are repressed monkeys, but I didn’t need you to be a special unrepressed monkey to have appreciated where this book was going, ok?
So that’s maybe my only beef, that Leonard is Different and certain characters keep complimenting him on how Different he is, but that’s also sort of the point, that Different is hard. And while AnimeJune was unable to connect to Leonard, I really liked him, even though Slightly Pretentious Rise-Above-The-Herd Shoot Your Former Best Friend-style protagonists don’t usually earn my sympathy.
So good work, MQuick. I was disappointed by The Silver Linings Playbook but that’s only because the movie got such ACCOLADES and high hopes, they get yeh every time.
This is a solid novel.