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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.
The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick I have a sneaking suspicion this is a rare case where the movie adaptation is better than the book. After all, the movie possibly (haven't seen it as this point) benefits from casting Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, actors with a lot of native charm, in the lead roles.

So...there's Pat Peoples (seriously? What a name), who begins the story in a "neural heath facility,**" because his, um, neurons make him think his ex-wife, Nikki, is just dying to take his delusional self back. Just as soon as he loses a few more pounds and gets a little kinder.

It's clear that Pat is the poster boy for unreliable narrator, since everyone else does the cringe/eye roll/change-the-subject thing when Pat babbles about the end of "apart time" with Nikki. Four years ago, he did something really bad that resulted in the dissolution of his marriage and his separation from the thing called reality.

Anyway, after being checked out of neural health facility by his mom, Pat goes home to live in his parents' basement, where he works out obsessively and bonds with his brother, father, shrink, and high school chum over the fluctuating fortunes of the Philadelphia Eagles football team.

Because nothing says "forever always" love like two unstable people in a relationship, his buddy Ronnie sets Pat up with Ronnie's sister-in-law, Tiffany. Tiffany is recently widowed, and like Pat, the loss of her spouse has driven her off the deep end of un-sane pool. (Flippant tone aside, I'm not un-sympathetic to her situation.) She takes one look at Pat, his bulging muscles and great cardio fitness, and decides he will be her partner in a local dance competition.

She convinces him to be her partner by offering to be a liaison between Pat and Nikki, since assorted restraining orders prevent Pat from actually contacting Nikki. Pat readily agrees, even abstaining from football, to immerse himself in learning Tiffany's dance routine.

Lessons are learned; reality contacted; new love found in a predictable manner.

While I found The Silver Linings Playbook eminently readable and kind of cute at times, the ending left me a little cold. Thing is, when I was a teen and into my early twenties, I found the idea of two horribly broken people falling in love utter perfection. Because they understand each other in a way no one else can, right?

Eh, wrong. More often than not, you have two seriously fucked up people who have a nasty habit of fucking up each other even more.

Plus (and I can't believe I, of all people am saying this), Tiffany is a little too weird, too charmless, and ultimately too manipulative, which makes it hard to root for this relationship.

Actually, the only character who really moved me emotionally was Pat's father. In a "I'd love to move my fist into his face" kind of way. Basically, Dad is an emotionally abusive asshole. Pat makes excuses for his father -- it's the only way he knows to be, blah, blah, blah -- but in the end Dad is still a huge sphincter. Honestly, the best thing Pat can do is get his shit together and move out, so his mother can do the same. (Because, as long as Pat's living in the basement, Mom will probably feel obligated to stick around and take care of him.)

The Silver Linings Playbook seems to draw a lot of comparisons to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a book waiting on my Kindle. Should be interesting, when I get to Perks, to comparing the two.

**Given my personal familiarity with mental illness, I'm not diminishing the impact it makes on peoples' lives. But, I also don't take shit that seriously--part of, you know, coping, with my crazy brain chemistry--and "neural health facility" just begs to be mocked.