The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, published April 2010 by Sarah Crichton Books.
Read: June 2014
Genre: Adult/Contemporary/Romance/Mental Health
Synopsis: Imagine your life is a film directed by God. A rom-com, obviously, complete with happy-ever-after ending… Welcome to Pat’s world. It’s a world of silver-linings and true love, but also a world where God makes movies and Kenny G lurks in your attic. It maybe isn’t a surprise to learn that Pat has spent some time 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 estranged wife; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany and his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. In this enchanting novel, Matthew Quick takes us inside Pat’s mind, showing us the world from his distorted yet endearing perspective.
OK, so with this one I did that thing you’re not supposed to do. I watched the movie before I read the book. I know, I know. Having now both read the book and seen the movie I have to say I’m pretty impressed. I thought the movie stayed very true to the book and was a very strong adaptation. I would nearly go so far as to say I preferred it.
Disclaimer! So first off if there are some great classics you haven’t read yet, and you plan to, read those first before picking up this book. I was excited for The Great Gatsby, I’m still excited, but I basically know what happens now. Just sayin’.
Silver Linings Playbook is kind-of written as a stream of consciousness from the point of view of Pat. I found this took me a little while to get used to. Not in a bad way, it just takes a chapter or two to get into the flow. It also means that as a reader, we are relying on Pat’s interpretation of the story, which we come to learn can be… clouded. I do think the story presents a realistic portrayal of a man suffering with mental health problems, and of society’s response to those problems, including how Pat’s family cope.
I found Pat to be a really endearing character, I felt his struggle and his desire to win back his estranged wife, and essentially he comes across as a great guy who has had to suffer with this mental illness and is trying to deal with it as best he can. I loved the touches of humour throughout the book, which I wouldn’t say lightened the read, but did prevent it from being too dark at times. Tiffany was an interesting character – I didn’t click with her immediately and it took me a while to come round to her (which was the same feeling I had with the movie), and I have a particular soft spot for Pat’s Counsellor, Dr Patel.
There are plenty of sports references throughout the book, essentially sport is what gives Pat and his father the opportunity to bond again. Personally, I’m not the world’s biggest sports fan so this didn’t really resonate with me, but it was easy to see how the passionate mutual interest played a key role in the novel.
“Life is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly. Literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for us to endure nobly.”
Maybe I ruined myself for the book slightly because I’d already seen the movie, it is a very close adaptation. This wouldn’t be a book I finish and immediately think, “I can’t wait to reread that!” but it is a great pick for someone wanting to get inside the head of someone trying to overcome reasonably severe mental health issues. Check out the movie trailer below for more information on Silver Linings.