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Matthew Quick – The Silver Linings Playbook review

The novel that inspired the box office smash.

Silver Linings Playbook

Pat Peoples is released from a psychiatric hospital where he has been recovering following an incident he can’t remember. Unsure of how long he’s been separated from his family, Pat moves in with his emotional mother and his uncaring father. As he reconnects with his brother Jake and his childhood friend Ronnie, Pat longs to be reunited with his wife Nikki. His family try to keep the truth about why he was taken to a mental institution hidden and are evasive when he asks when he will see his wife again. Whilst he rebuilds his life and works on fixing his imperfections, Pat meets feisty neighbour Tiffany who he forms an unusual bond with and life takes a few unusual twists.

The Silver Linings Playbook was recently released as a film starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Whilst some of the details were changed for the big screen outing, the sensibility is true to Matthew Quick’s original novel. Essentially The Silver Linings Playbook is an exploration of a man’s battle against mental health issues and depression following an upsetting incident in his life. Pat deals with things by blocking out what happened and maintaining the idea that every story has a silver lining and a happy ending.

The world that Pat knew before he went to the hospital is not the one he finds when he returns home. His mother and father are distant from one another, his brother is fairly vague about the details of his life, and his wife is nowhere to be seen. He soon realises that the people around him are holding information back and his bond with Tiffany is one of the only things he can truly trust. Tiffany, like Pat, is troubled and has been battling her own demons since the death of her husband. At first she pretty much stalks Pat after a misunderstanding following a dinner date set up by her sister, the wife of Pat’s childhood best-friend Ronnie. Soon though the two realise they understand each other in a way that no one else can.

One of our favourite dynamics in the book is that between Pat and his therapist Cliff. At first the two are awkward with one another but they soon find common ground when they share their mutual love of American football team the Eagles (a theme that runs through all of the male characters in the novel). The exchanges between Pat and Cliff are some of the books best moments as their professional relationship soon transforms into a strong friendship.

With The Silver Linings Playbook Matthew Quick has crafted an engaging, emotive and affecting story of how life throws you a curveball often changing your path in ways you never expected. Pat is so fixated on reuniting with her wife that he throws himself into exercise and reading to try and be the man he thinks she wants him to be. He’s so busy reaching for a goal that everyone else can see is not going to be achievable that he fails to see what is going on around him.

Quick’s writing is concise but very funny in parts. Pat isn’t the best communicator and he looks at things in a very factual way. Some of the passages of dialogue really had us laughing, in particular when Pat is trying to make sense of what he considers to be the odd behaviour of those around him.

The Silver Linings Playbook is a fantastic read and we couldn’t put it down. Funny, warm and at times fairly sad the book is a rollercoaster through your emotions. We’re desperate to see the film now that we’ve read the book and we can imagine Bradley Cooper making the perfect Pat. The Silver Linings Playbook may give you a better insight into the battle with mental health and depression that some people go through in life. Not everyone can cope with the hurdles that life throws at them and Pat Peoples is sadly one of those people. His never-ending optimism though is inspiring and we could all learn a lot from his bright outlook on life despite its difficulties.

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