This was an unexpected read for me. The movie has been out for about a month now and despite the fact that it has Bradley Cooper (who, I maintain, IS sexier than Ryan Gosling), and the amazing De Niro, I just wasn’t interested in seeing it. I’m also not a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan (maybe it’s because she’s my age and she’s gotten to kiss Bradley Cooper..say whaaa?). Anyway, since the movie didn’t peak my interest, I figured the book wouldn’t either. Then I saw it sitting innocently on a coworker’s shelf and the movie tie-in cover appealed to me so much, that I decided to give it a go anyway. Result? I finished it in two hours flat. And loved every second.
Silver Linings Playbook is the story of Pat Peoples. Pat is mentally unstable because of an accident that nobody will talk to him about. He’s fixated on ending “apart time” with his wife and trying desperately to make sense of the fact that four years of his life seem to have gone by without him knowing about it. Pat Peoples is one of the most endearing male characters I have ever come across. Stories about mental instability can be hard to handle. The chaos that comes with a first person perspective is hard enough for a reader to navigate; throw in the confusion of losing four years of your life and you’ve got a heavy book to deal with. Pat turned this all around. Being in Pat’s head was, oddly, a beautiful experience. Pat Peoples is both a child and a brilliant man wrapped in a pretty hot body. I can’t even lie, picturing Bradley Cooper playing this vulnerable but extraordinary man makes me want to rush to the movie theatre and buy a ticket immediately.
The narration was brilliant. For the first half of the book, I kept making wild guesses. Is his wife just a figment of his imagination? Is this new, mysterious woman, Tiffany, who keeps following him really his wife and just not telling him? Did he murder his wife and block it from his memory (no, Pat Peoples is a sweetheart and would never have the heart to kill a fly, let alone a human being)? In the end, the truth was a beautiful letdown. What do I mean by that? I mean it was not an exciting, heart-pounding climatic end. But it was one that made my heart sigh with contentment.
One thing I have to say I particularly loved about the book was all the football. Before you immediately condemn this book thinking, “Bah, football…who wants to read about that?” let me explain. It’s not the type of book that fills the pages with statistics that no football fan would understand, or the type of book to go on and on about historic plays and players. No. It explores the amazing connection that a common interest threads between the strangest of personalities. Pat’s father, Patrick, is a man that’s particularly hard to love. He allows the wins and losses of the Eagles to define his interactions and familial relationships. If the Eagles lose, he doesn’t speak to his wife and sons for a week. If the Eagles win, well…maybe he’ll join in a family dinner. The funny thing is, I know people who act not as drastically but who definitely mirror traits like Patrick’s. If their team loses, they’ll break things or adopt a foul mood for a few days. Is it understandable? I guess. Is it acceptable? Certainly not. Is it interesting to watch how this affects the dynamics of other characters? 100%. This man says about ten words in the entire book and yet his presence is more palpable than characters from other books who chatter on for half the page count. Matthew Quick gets it. In turn, he makes you get it as well. I especially loved the line, “…all it really takes for different people to get along is a common rooting interest and a few beers”.
Please don’t misunderstand me; football doesn’t take up the whole book or even half of it. Silver Linings Playbook is the journey you take with Pat as he struggles with loss, friendship, trust, confusion, medication, and relationships. It’s not easy to love someone that’s all wrong in the head but, by George, I fell in love with Pat Peoples. I think you might too.