Saturday, March 9, 2013

the silver linings playbook

I love Jennifer Lawrence. I want this girl to be my best friend. I mean, she tripped at the OSCARS and didn't even blink!! She's hilarious, and always seems so comfortable with herself. 

I really wanted to see The Silver Linings Playbook because of this. I honestly had no idea it was a book until I was browsing the Barnes and Noble website. Also, the trailer I saw gave absolute NO INDICATION this movie was about mental illness. 

I was looking for a rom-com, J-Law.


And boy, do I have opinions. Here we go.

Book: The Silver Linings Playbook
Author: Matthew Quick
Genre: Depressing (I made that up. But it's true.)
Series: None
Pages: 244

Where do I start?! I think to properly describe this book, I may have to go a little more in depth with the plot than I usually do. I don't really think it's possible to have a real "spoiler" in a book like this, but just a heads up.

We first meet our narrator, Pat Peoples, when he is a patient in a mental institution, which he calls "the bad place". He hates his doctors and the other patients, because they teach negativity, in his opinion. He's all about silver linings, and things working out happily in the end. He believes that his "silver lining" will be his wife Nikki ending their "apart time" and coming back to him.

His mother convinces the doctors to let him out of the mental institution, and he moves home with her and his father. He lives in the basement, where she has purchased him thousands of dollars in gym equipment, so he can work out SIXTEEN HOURS A DAY. Having a rockin' bod, among other things, is how he is convinced he will get his wife Nikki to come back to him.

Can we say enabler? Jeez, mom.

So we have his mother, a pretty timid woman who gets treated horribly by her husband and enables her mentally unstable 34 year old son.

We have his father, a football fanatic who allows the outcome of Eagle's games to determine his mood for the week, who refuses to say even one word to Pat. (Side note- there is A LOT of football in this book.)

And we have Pat, a 34 year old former history professor who has been locked in a mental facility for 4 years, but only has memory of the last few months. He doesn't realize how much time has gone by, and has trouble adjusting once he realizes he is missing 4 years of his life. He exercises excessively, because, as I mentioned before, he believes his wife will return to him if he really works on himself. He wants to be physically fit, well-read (she's an English teacher, so he reads all the books on her syllabus), and he wants to be "kind rather than right". 

His old best friend invites him over for dinner one evening, and that is where he meets Tiffany. She is coping with the death of her husband, and as many of the same issues as Pat. They develop a tenuous friendship, based on mutual understanding of the deep psychological issues each has.

Tiffany asks Pat to be her partner in an upcoming dance competition, and in exchange, she will contact his wife Nikki and be their liaison. Pat will be allowed to write Nikki letters, which Tiffany will read to her over the phone, and then dictate Nikki's responses and bring them back to Pat. It is through this correspondence that Pat learns that Nikki divorced him only a few months after his admission to the mental facility, and she took out a restraining order on him because of the violent crime that landed him there. Pat's parents, in turn, took out a restraining order on her, fearing that if she were to see Pat at all, it would set him back mentally. So by contacting each other, they are breaking several laws.  She tries to explain that she will never come back to him, and only wanted to afford him a sense of closure, but he just doesn't get it. He continually asks her to meet him, promises to be a better man, and refuses to believe that she is done with the relationship.

All the while he is having violent outbursts, struggling with his relationship with his father, and trying to understand where he fits in this new life.

The "climax" of the book (if you could even call it that) is when we find out what his "violent crime" was. I won't give it away here, but ugh. I was totally disappointed. 

I've heard red carpet interviews and such where the actors say that this movie is trying to shed light on mental illness, and remove the stigma. 


Mental illnesses are just as real and complex as any other illness, and there shouldn't be hushed whispers and rude comments when someone is dealing with that. This book could have been such an inspiration, something to hold up and say, "Look! I suffer from an illness, like any other, but I am working towards getting better!".

That is soooo not what is happening here. Pat doesn't want to get better. He is delusional, and selfish, and I don't think mental illness should be an excuse for violence.

Also, the "violent crime" that sets off this four year bout with crazy is not something, in my opinion, that was a believable catalyst for the behavior that ensued. Sure, what he went through was awful. Traumatic, painful, and sad. But seriously? You went into a four year fugue state because of THAT?

I digress.

I'm sure by now you have caught on to the fact that I didn't like this book. I thought it could have been so much more, but in the end, I was depressed. DEPRESSED! A book about mental illness should be hopeful, don't you think? Something more along the lines of, "You too can fight this illness! You are not alone! Believe that you can get better!" At least, that's how I see it. This book was more of a "If I act a little crazier, my wife will come back." "If I don't stand up to my asshole of a father, maybe he will speak to me." "If I drink beers with the boys, no one will ever realize what I'm hiding.'"

Ugh. I'm pretty much disgusted with the whole thing.

Which is disappointing, because I do love a good Jennifer Lawrence movie. But I will not be seeing it. This book should not be praised, in my opinion. I feel like it was almost a guidebook, a sort of "how-to" on becoming psychotic.

I guess psychotic = silver linings?
As in, The Silver Linings Playbook?
Your Handy-Dandy Guide to Becoming Psycho.


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