The story is written in narrative form about a young man, Leonard. He is 18 and a senior in high school. His birthday is the day we meet him in the beginning of the novel. It is also the self-proclaimed day that readers will say goodbye to him. Leonard has decided to use his grandfather’s antique gun and kill his one-time best friend, Asher Beal and then turn the gun on himself. He has four gifts for four people who have made an impact on his life. It is disturbing to go on this journey with Leonard. He’s seems to be a very troubled young man. He also comes across as extremely self-centered and snobbish when he refers to his classmates as ubermorons and yet vulnerable and lonely at the same time. His father left his mother and may have moved to Argentina. His father used to belong to a band and had one hit so his father decided to spend the rest of his life as a drunk and out of the picture. His mother, who he refers to as Linda rather than mother, has also abandoned him and moved to New York to pursue her dreams of becoming a designer. Revelations are revealed, hurts are explained and your attitude or feelings for Leonard and his situation change with each chapter.
I don’t know what the feeling of utter hopelessness feels like. I don’t know what it’s like to not even hear happy birthday from your own mother or friends. I don’t know what it feels like to have been bullied and violated as a child, but I do know that Mathew Quick wrote a book worth reading and discussing about mental, physical and emotional abuse and the stigma/impact it has on teenagers during a very pivotal part of their lives, their journey into adulthood and whether they want to stay the course or make other plans.
Review by Andrea, CLP-Homewood.