The Silver Linings Playbook
Author: Matthew Quick
Length: 7 hours
Narrator: Ray Porter
Original Publication Date: 2008
Genre(s): Realistic fiction, Contemporary
Pat Peoples just got out of what he calls “the bad place,” a neural-health facility. He is ready for “apart time” with his wife, Nikki, to end. He’s a changed man—he is practicing being nice instead of right, he’s working out to get in shape, and he’s determined to be a better husband. But it’s clear his family is hiding things from him, walking on eggshells to protect him from something, he just can’t figure out what. So he goes running and pushes his body to the limit; he watches the Eagles games with his brother and distant father; and he eventually comes to learn why he was sent to the bad place. But Pat is a man of silver linings, and he knows his movie is going to have a happy ending, no matter what.
This is one of the unfortunate cases where I saw the film adaptation before reading the book, so it definitely influenced how I received the book at first. I definitely pictured Pat as Bradley Cooper and Tiffany as Jennifer Lawrence. I couldn’t help it. I actually liked the movie pretty well, and though I’ve only seen it once, like, 4 years ago, I kept thinking about how much better I liked the movie. But as I read on, I realized just how drastically different the book is from the movie, and actually a lot better.
The story is told in first-person from the perspective of Pat. Pat, because of his mental state, is a bit of an unreliable narrator in the sense that he’s really confused and missing a large chunk of time and reality. Sometimes I get a bit annoyed with him, but he’s endearing. And I understand the why of it all, so I like him pretty well. He’s really funny, even when he’s not trying to be. I love when he says he’s practicing being kind over right. I think I need to practice that, too.
The story is fairly slow in the beginning, but picks up as Pat starts to make friends and remember his past. My favorite parts of the book are when Pat is reading classic literature to impress his wife. If you haven’t read The Great Gatsby, A Farewell to Arms, The Scarlet Letter, The Bell Jar, or Huckleberry Finn, and you don’t want spoilers, I highly suggest not reading The Silver Linings Playbook. Pat reads each of these novels and pretty much spoils the entire plot for each, and all the endings. I love his reactions, though. All of them, as you may know, are sad, with the exception of Huck Finn. Pat hates this. He rips The Bell Jar in two, and it makes me laugh and cringe at the same time. That’s actually one part of the movie I really like, too: where he throws A Farewell to Arms out the window. In the book, he states it’s perhaps the saddest story he’s ever read.
I love it!
I mostly loved all the characters, except Pat’s dad. His dad is the kind of person I dislike most in life. Football is his entire life. It determines his mood and how he treats other people. If the Eagles lost, he smashed the TV and was in a piss-poor mood for the rest of the week, or even longer if they lost again. He was rude to his wife, never lifted a finger to help anyone out, and ignored his son almost entirely. It was super annoying.
Pat’s therapist, Cliff, was easily one of my favorite characters. He’s the kind of therapist I would like to have. He’s fun and easygoing, but still maintains a professional manner. And Tiffany, through all her faults, is awesome. I wish I could be more like her. Stand up for myself and be so vocal.
Now that I’ve finished the book, I can’t really discern it from the movie, so I’ll have to watch it again. But I do like the story. I was hesitant at first, but I’m happy I listened to it.
—“Life is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly. Literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for us to endure nobly.”