April 25, 2014

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

If clouds are blocking the sun, there will always be a silver lining that reminds me to keep on trying, because I know that while things might seem dark now, my wife is coming back to me soon. Seeing the light outline those fluffy puffs of white and gray is electrifying. [...] It hurts to look at the clouds, but it also helps, like most things that cause pain.
-from The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

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Pat Peoples has just been released from a neural health facility and he doesn't even remember why or how long he's been in there. All he knows is that he needs to get better, mentally and physically, if he wants "Apart Time" with his wife, Nikki, to end. When Pat returns home to live with his parents, his mother spends her time coddling him while his father will barely acknowledge him unless there's an Eagles football game on television. While focusing on the silver lining in every situation, Pat meets Tiffany, a clinically depressed widow who understands loss from a different angle than Pat. What transpires through their friendship is a laugh out loud adventure about how to find silver linings and recognize the happy ending to stories in ones life.

While this story is incredibly entertaining, comical and beautifully moving, it would not be able to execute these things without the narrative voice that Quick has crafted through Pat Peoples. A mentally ill narrator, in any capacity, is someone the reader may not feel they can entirely trust. But Pat is easily likable and I quickly developed a new perspective of living with mental illness through my appreciation of his character.

Similarly, another perspective is explored through Tiffany, a character I was distrusting of initially. Pat is endearing and hopeful; Tiffany is abrasive and shamelessly honest. Together we learn two different perspectives of individuals coping with varied mental illness. Pat and Tiffany learn from each other because of their different experiences also, which makes for an interesting pair struggling to get to their own respective silver linings.

I really enjoyed the character of Pat's mother who did everything she could to take care of everyone around her, but is treated so poorly by Pat's father. Her commitment to keeping her son's mental health positive so that he wouldn't have to return to the neural health facility is endearing and she eventually puts her foot down to his father, which made me cheer! Pat's father, while not a character I "loved", was equally fascinating, and I enjoyed the usage of football throughout the novel to express camaraderie between the men in the Peoples family.

While I loved how Pat viewed his life as a movie and the analogy was in step with his search of silver linings, I HATED the film adaptation of this book. I know that's a fairly common complaint with book-to-movie ventures, but this one was so different from the book that it felt empty to me. I probably wouldn't have felt that way if I hadn't read the book first because Bradley Cooper and especially Jennifer Lawrence were really wonderful in their roles. But the script --- UGH!! They should have let Matthew Quick write the script so that the story might have retained some of its depth and charm lost in translation.

Bottom Line: A beautiful explication of mental health, love and finding the positive in every dark time. If you love contemporary novels, you'll love this one! 4.5/5 Stars.


  1. I saw the movie first and loved JLaw and Bradley Cooper in it so much that when I read the book I ended up not liking it!! I wonder if I would've read the book first, I would have felt the same way you did?? I liked that the movie had a more clear ending and purpose to it. The book ended with Pat and Tiffany being so ehhh with each other. Like, well since you're here why not? I don't know I guess I was just expecting the book and movie to be more alike and they SO weren't. Great review though :)

  2. I haven't read the book or watched the movie, and I'm not sure what to do about it,oops. It's annoying that Bradley and Jennifer were both great but the script didn't fit. It sounds intense, like a lot of books dealing with mental health. Was it sad, too?


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