Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick is a young adult novel told in the first person by the titular Leonard Peacock who is celebrating his 18th birthday by packing five things in his backpack before going to school—four gifts for some very special people in his life and a loaded World War II Nazi pistol left to him by his deceased grandfather. Leonard is preparing to say goodbye but, first, he is going to murder the boy who has been bullying him.
Believe it or not, it is almost impossible not to fall in love with the protagonist in spite of his homicidal intentions and his suicidal ideation. As he gradually tells his story, we meet the four people who have most deeply touched his lonely life—an old man who lives next door, a fellow student, a young girl, and his favorite teacher who happens to be teaching a course on ethics during the Nazi regime.
Above all else, Leonard is unique, an unforgettable character whose emotional state becomes something the reader can only hope will improve, that he will find healing. The complex relationships he has with those he cares for most are only overshadowed by his relationship with his mother, a phantom character at best. This is not unusual for young adult novels where parental figures are often absent or the young characters are removed from their familial home. Nonetheless, even though there is one young adult trope, I very much enjoyed this novel and found the ending was gratifying. I only wish I had read the novel sooner.