Leonard Peacock stares down at his morning bowl of cereal sitting on the kitchen table next to his grandfather’s P-38, World War II era handgun and laughs to himself. Today is his 18th birthday and today he will die. But not before he delivers a gift to his four friends. There’s Walt the crotchety old, Bogart-obsessed neighbor; Baback, a violin prodigy at his high school; Lauren, a Christian girl who is home-schooled; and his Holocaust teacher, Herr Silverman. He hopes that by giving each of these gifts his friends will realize that he did care about them and that what is going to happen today is not their fault: when Leonard kills Asher Beal and then turns the gun on himself, they shouldn’t blame themselves.
Matthew Quick is currently my favorite author. His characters are always so endearingly flawed and relatable, despite often being legitimately crazy or unstable. I wanted to love this book so badly but couldn’t. If I could, at a bare minimum, edit out the “f”-words, I probably would like it, but the fact remains that the content is inappropriate for a young adult novel.
Rated: DIRT. There are dozens of instances of very strong language (basically all the “f”-word) as well as mild language, along with brief mention and discussion of masturbation. There is also sex between two teenage boys; it is implied that it is rape, and though it is not graphic or descriptive, it is clear what is being talked about.