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The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Silver Linings Playbook

So here’s the story with my blog post on The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. I loved this book. I loved it so much that I wrote a lot about it in a draft entry and finally got to the point where I was going to list all the reasons that it was so great.  It was there, that I got stuck.  You see, I loved this book so much that I didn’t want to analyze it.  And when I tried to analyze it, I found it hard because for me, this book was so wonderful because it truly makes you feel. Does that make sense?  Do you ever read something that you find so powerful that it really makes you feel.  I might be talking gibberish.  Let me try another example.  You know that feeling you get when you’re listening to one of your favorite songs and you’re indescribably happy and it’s a good day and you really feel something because of that song.  This book kind of had that affect on me. It makes you feel so many emotions: frustration, love, happiness, bitter sadness, anger. While I can’t say that I can truly understand where the main characters in the book were coming from, I could understand and value the emotions of people living their lives, trying to find “their silver lining.”  So what follows in green is the draft that I wrote over a week ago. Following in black are my continued thoughts from today.

I read The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick in three days.  It was one of those books that I read whenever I got the chance.  I’m talking “according to the announcement, a subway train will be arriving in 3 minutes which means I can probably read 2 pages before it gets here, and then hopefully another 3-4 pages between 86th and 68th street where I get off the subway” read whenever I got the chance.  Then when I finally got to the end, I was so happy that I cried.  The ending made me THAT happy.  Then, after I cried because I was so happy, I was so sad because I just wanted to continue reading more and more and to have that happy feeling last as long as possible.  It took me forever to even pick out a new book to read because I wanted desperately to pick something that would fill the void that was left after I finished The Silver Linings Playbook.

To make a long story short, I loved this book. I loved it so much that I think you should read it immediately.  This would be one of those moments where having an e-reader would be convenient because you could download it and start reading it in less than 5 minutes (I’d be honored if you trusted my opinion so much that you did this.  I personally think you wouldn’t regret it).  In case you aren’t compelled to read the book simply because I’ve gushed about it for two paragraphs, I’m more than happy to tell you a little more about the book and why exactly I liked it so much.

It’s more than likely that you’ve heard about this book before, or actually what you’ve probably heard about is the movie that was made based on the novel.  I saw the movie on Christmas and at the time, didn’t even realize that it was first a book.  I really loved the movie version of the book as well, but I don’t want to try and compare or contrast the two right now until I have the opportunity to watch it again.  Because of that, I really want to focus this post on the novel and not the movie.  I will say though, that having seen the movie first did not in any way spoil the experience of reading the book.  I did however, picture Bradley Cooper specifically while reading the book (but is picturing Bradley Cooper really ever a bad thing? I mean, c’mon).

The Silver Linings Playbook is told from the first person narrative of Pat Peoples.  Pat has just been released from a mental institution that he has lived in for an unknown (to the reader and to Pat) period of time.  He finally gets to return home to live with his mom and Eagles football obsessed father but what he really wants is “apart time” to be over.  He is currently going through “apart time” with his wife Nikki, meaning he hasn’t seen her since entering the mental institution.  Everything Pat does, he does in the hopes that it brings him one step closer to the end of apart time. He exercises incessantly in the hopes of keeping his body in top form for when they’re reunited.  He reads classic literature, hoping to impress Nikki because she’s an English teacher. It is clear that something happened between Nikki and Pat but whatever it was, the reader is left in the dark because Pat himself is in the dark.  He has blocked out any memory of what exactly happened to cause “apart time.” The only thing the reader (and Pat knows) is that Kenny G really sets him off in a violent way. Along the way of trying to accept who he is and what has happened, Pat meets Tiffany, the sister-in-law of one of his best friends.  Tiffany’s husband passed away suddenly in a car accident and ever since she has been left unable to cope with the loss, becoming mentally unstable and ending up in therapy.  The two develop a friendship and slowly start to help each other with their individual problems.

So now here’s the part where I got stuck: trying to come up with concrete reasons why this book was so great other than “take my word for it.”  Instead of delaying the posting of this for another week (which I refuse to do seeing as how I’ve read one and a half books since finishing Silver Linings) I will offer up this.  Quick writes in a way that you completely believe his characters are real.  His portrayal of a man suffering from a mental illness is so heartbreaking while at the same time uplifting that it really resonates as real life.

Also, in looking at what I highlighted in the book, I had made note of a passage where Pat and all of his friends go to get cheesesteaks at Pat’s Steaks (of no relation to the book’s main character) in Philadelphia (the city that the entire book pretty much revolves around) because Pat’s has the best cheesesteaks. We are told that Geno’s cheesesteaks are inferior. Having grown up in South Jersey and gone to college in a Philly suburb, I most certainly agree that Pat’s has the superior cheesesteaks, so this made me happy.

So there you have it folks: my reasons are 1. it feels real and 2. Quick has the same taste in cheesesteaks as I do. Am I complete book blogging failure? I hope you don’t think so. I also hope you didn’t give up reading this post after the first paragraph.  And I really really hope you read The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. Clearly, I think it’s worth it.

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