GETTING YOUR BOOKS BY CHRISTMAS, PART 2
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Why did NPR's popular librarian Nancy Pearl pick "The Silver Linings Playbook" as one of summer's best reads for 2009? "Aawww shucks " Pearl said. "I know that's hardly a usual way to begin a book review, but it was my immediate response to finishing Matthew Quick's heartwarming, humorous and soul-satisfying first novel . . . This book makes me smile." Meet Pat Peoples. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure him a happy ending--the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent several years in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat's now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he's being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he's being haunted by Kenny G As the award-winning novelist Justin Cronin put it: "Tender, soulful, hilarious, and true, "The Silver Linings Playbook" is a wonderful debut."
"Pat People is the protagonist and the narrator of "The Silver Linings Playbook." I found him compelling and fascinating, and I found myself not only caring about him but rooting for him unashamedly, which, for an author is, I believe, what they mean by scoring a tour de force. Pat Peoples' author is Matthew Quick. This is his debut novel and, as the professionals like to say, it suggests promising 'promise.'"--Bill Lyon, "The Philadelphia Inquirer ""There are a slew of debuts out there that propelled their unknown authors to greatness: think "Bright Lights Big City," "Fight Club," "Mysteries of Pittsburgh." "The Silver Linings Playbook," the first effort from former Philadelphia teacher Matthew Quick, may do the same for this author. At times heartbreaking and funny, the book opens with the narrator, Pat People, leaving a mental health facility in Baltimore with little recollection of how he got there. Taking up residency in his parent's house, he lives in the basement, spending most of the day working out to get into top physical shape for what he hopes will be a reunion with his wife. Pat slowly starts to allow other activities to seep into his life, like following the Philadelphia Eagles and establishing upon a friendship with a fellow survivor of emotional breakdown, the widow down the street. Quick has a true talent for storytelling. Not since "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" has an author to tackle mental illness with as much humor and humanity. Though it tough to color the topic of life-changing emotional breakdowns with laughter, he pulls it off effortlessly. Though we're only nine months into 2008, it seems pretty obvious that Quick has turned in one of the year's best debut novels. (A)"--"Insite "magazine "Pat Peoples' mother has brought him home from the 'neural health facility' where he's been staying during 'apart time' from his wife, Nikki. Pat doesn't know why they are separated, believes their reunion is inevitable and thinks he's been gone a few months; in reality it's been four years. He tries to stay upbeat: 'I don't want to stay in the bad place, where no one believes in silver linings or love or happy endings . . . but I am also afraid the people from my old life will not be as enthusiastic as I am now trying to be.' His mother sets him up with a therapist, Dr. Patel. The first hint at a reason for apart time appears in the doctor's waiting room, when Pat hears "Songbird" by Kenny G, and the 'evil bright soprano saxophone' sends him into a rage, screaming, flipping over chairs, yelling at the receptionist. But Pat likes Dr. Patel, who turns out to be a major Philadelphia Eagles fan--he goes to tailgate parties in a bus labeled 'Asian Invasion' with a portrait of Brian Dawkins painted on the hood. Being an Eagles fan is important to Pat, whose father's moods revolve around the team. He also witnesses his mother's pain, as she waits to see what temper her husband will be in based on a game's outcome. His father's mania is not unusual in Philadelphia, where Eagles fandom is a blood sport, something Pat gets caught up in at a tailgate party, when he attacks a Giants fan while defending his brother Jake. Soon after his move back home, Pat is befriended in an odd and cautious way by Tiffany, who silently waits for Pat when he comes out to run (he works out 10 hours a day), and follows him at a distance. They begin a wary alliance, and she tells him she's scouting his work ethic, his endurance and his ability to persevere, but won't tell him why. Friendship, family, connection and discovery intertwine in a marvelous way in this appealing novel. Pat thinks that just when a movie's main character believes all is lost, something surprising happens, leading to a happy ending, so he continues to hope that he'll be reunited with Nikki, that God will not let him down. As Pat doggedly practices being kind rather than right, grace enters his life in unexpected ways ('Miracles happen on Christmas, Pat. Everybody knows that shit.'), and he realizes that life is not a movie. In refusing to be defeated by pessimism, Pat learns about true silver linings, not pretty happy endings."--Marilyn Dahl, "Shelf Awareness"
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