I don’t have to look up to know Mom is making another surprise visit.
Ever since my fave Jennifer Lawrence won her Oscar in 2012 I have desperately wanted to watch the film she was praised for but my inner literary geek said “no” – I had to read the book first. And though I admit, I took my time (!) Matthew Quick’s enchanting novel about mental health has now been enjoyed and consumed from cover to cover.
This story is written as a stream of consciousness from the mind of optimistic Pat Peoples, a man who is working through the “apart time” from his wife as he comes out of the “bad place”. He returns from hospital to live at his parents’ house and though he starts to embrace his new life, Pat soon begins to realise that his newly-adopted coping mechanisms may be hiding a history that he needs to face if he’s going to survive.
The issue of mental health in The Silver Linings Playbook is not overt or acutely explained in minute detail; it’s just there. Pat’s state of mind is part of the fabric of the novel and is woven both delicately and seamlessly within the narrative so that the audience (rather than being told about it) experiences and works through his thought-processes along with him. For me, this makes it a much more honest and successful story – similar to Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. His increasingly frequent encounters with Tiffany, a woman whose behaviour is far from ordinary,
The fact that this story is told as Pat is exiting not only the “bad place” physically but also mentally makes for a very interesting read. His narrative takes on the optimistic viewpoint of a child searching for that elusive happy ending and focuses on discovering a new identity and place within the world rather than dwelling on how you got there. There are some really lovely, light-hearted moments with his brother and friends at the Eagles games, his encounters with Tiffany (though borderline unhealthy) are comically blunt but sweet natured and oh how you will his father just make an effort!
Quick creates an extraordinary story from ordinary circumstances. He puts a small twist on the reader’s perspective by using Pat’s voice for the narrative and as such effortlessly details a life unknown to most. The Silver Linings Playbook is simple, effective and easily accessible tale of leaving a “bad place” in search of life’s silver lining.