Some great reads this month. Most memorable were Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (here’s the snippet posted on Smart Bitches Trashy Books that made me get a hold of the book — it was a wonderful read and I totally fell in love with Park and Eleanor), Charming by Elliott James (loved this one, too! Here’s the Smart Bitches Trashy Books review that made me grab this book), and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. I can’t give enough praise for Ms Stiefvater’s way with words– her descriptions are so superb I find myself lingering over them and re-reading, even as my brain is urging me to hurry up and get to the next scene. It’s a dilemma for a super-fast reader like myself, I tell you. I’d love to be able to write like she does! But since I can’t, I’ll lap up every story in this series instead :)
But the book I’d like to talk about this month is The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick.
When I spotted the movie trailer starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, and figured it was a rom-com. You know, something light and frothy that plays for laughs. I never did get to see the movie at the theater or hire the DVD; the men in my life tend to reach for something gory (Resident Evil — Alice rules! *g*) so I decided I’d grab the book instead… and this could be one of those times I’m glad I read the book before seeing the movie-version.
Okay, so I still haven’t seen the movie, but I have read a few reviews that were critical of the “light” way mental illness was depicted. And I was surprised to note that in the movie, Pat (played by Bradley Cooper) spent less than a year (8 months, I think from memory) in the psychiatric ward before his mom finagles his release. Whereas in the book, Pat spent four years in the ward, and he’s suppressing his conscious awareness of that much time passing. (Hence everyone in his life who’s “in the know” about his breakdown goes to extreme lengths to avoid mentioning the time span that’s passed. So you can imagine how upset he becomes when someone slips up and he has to confront reality.) And I believe the longer time span — four years — is not only integral to the story, but helps set the tone from the get-go.
Pat’s in therapy. He struggles to keep it together on a daily basis. Sometimes he loses it. There is no magic cure; every day is a struggle to be well. Sure, there are some funny parts, but they’re funny almost by accident, because they stem from Pat’s unique way of coping (or not, as the case may be) and Pat is mentally unwell. They’re the kind of funny that’s almost makes you feel guilty for laughing.
For me, The Silver Linings Playbook isn’t a comedy. It’s not a romance. It’s definitely not a rom-com, either. It’s a story about a man finally accepting the breakdown of his marriage, that he did a terrible thing to his wife’s lover, that his wife has moved on, and that in the four years he’s been in hospital, the world and the people he once knew have changed. There’s no going back, so he has to forge a way forward as best he can.
If you’re still unsure whether this story is for you, then all I can say is try it. I picked up the book specifically because of the movie trailer, and from the cover (featuring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence’s smiling faces), I expected something light and funny and romantic. What I got was very different, but it turned out to be one of those unexpectedly great reads. DD loved it, too, BTW. But I think it would also appeal to male readers. Pat narrates throughout, and he’s very much a man’s man, obsessed with weight lifting and fitness, and following his beloved football team, the Eagles. (I learned a lot about football, and obsessive football fans!) So this could be a good book to gift that hard-to-buy-for man in your life? Though you might want to buy the non-movie-tie-in edition so he doesn’t get turned off by the cover and think you’ve bought him a rom-com :)
Here’s my reading list for November 2013:
- The Perils of Pleasure by Julie Anne Long
- Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer
- Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover
- Ironskin by Tina Connolly
- The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
- The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
- Talking Dogs, Aliens and Purple People Eaters by Shelley Munro
- HeartMate by Robin D. Owens
- Heart Thief by Robin D. Owens
- Heart Duel by Robin D. Owens
- Charming by Elliott James
- How To Lose A Bride In One Night by Sophie Jordan
- Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
- Ritual Magic by Eileen Wilks
- Copperhead by Tina Connolly
- The Fireman Who Loved Me by Jennifer Bernard
- Stranger In My Arms by Lisa Kleypas
Hope your Christmas shopping is well underway by now, and you’re not too overwhelmed by all the Christmas hype.