The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

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Here’s the official description:

Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G!

Review

I won’t lie to you now my lovely readers, I absolutely bought this book because I remembered seeing Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in the clips for the movie version. At the time of reading, I hadn’t seen the film so I really went in to this book blind. I wasn’t 100% sure of what it was about but it had been in my TBR list for a while and given that I was about to go on a long journey, I figured now was as good a time as any to get into it.

When I first started the book, it took me a few minutes to adjust. It’s like it should be read in a diary style but it’s not a diary, you’re basically reading Pat’s thoughts which are quite….simple really. Not childlike, but they are definitely those of a man who is struggling. You then find out that Pat has spent a considerable amount of time in a mental health facility aka ‘the bad place’.

As the book progresses, you realise that Pat’s problems run quite deep. He is so focussed though, his main goal now is to get better and for ‘apart time’ with his wife, Nikki, to finish. He desperately wants Nikki back and has immersed himself into working out and reading, just so that he is in better shape than he used to be and is more intellectual for her. We learn that one of her old colleagues used to call him an illiterate buffoon and I don’t know about anyone else, but I felt really protective of Pat and wanted him to be able to go up to that guy, like he was imagining he would, and to be able to fire back at him.

I really loved Pat’s character and wanted to see him succeed but you can’t help but think that he isn’t going to get his happy ending, his silver lining like he dreams of, and you wonder whether Nikki really is worth all of the trouble – she certainly doesn’t seem it.

Pat imagines that his life is a movie that God is in control of and thinks that if he pleases God by improving himself and ‘practising being kind’, then he will return Nikki to him. You get the feeling that this ship has sailed though, especially as his family are being very vague with him whenever he mentions her and the end of their apart time.

When Tiffany comes onto the scene, his friends wife’s sister, I really wanted them to hit it off straight away. Tiffany is an extremely direct woman who speaks her mind, a bit too much at times, but Pat doesn’t want her attention, all he wants is Nikki. Tiffany however, makes herself a part of Pat’s life, whether he likes it or not. It was no surprise to learn that she also has mental health problems and towards the end of the book when you learn why, my heart literally broke.

The supporting characters, like Pat’s family, therapist and his friends were great and even though they weren’t always very understanding of Pat’s problems, you discovered that they were still there to support him 100% when it mattered.

Overall, I LOVED this book. It has the perfect combination of humour and really touching moments and it really made me think about things in a different way. I loved Pat’s thoughts on silver linings and practising being nice, something we should all do. The only thing that stopped this from being a 5* for me was the amount of sports talk in the book. It didn’t put me off finishing reading it because I actually finished it in the day, that’s how much I enjoyed it, but I found myself skimming over the bits where they were talking about things I really didn’t understand. I imagine this doesn’t have the same kind of impact in the film though which for me is a good thing.

It also kind of made me want to take up running but I imagine that will pass pretty quickly, I run like Bambi, it’s not a pretty sight!

4 STARS

I have since seen the film, a couple of times, and although I do love me some Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, I can’t help but feel the script writers let the author down. So much is missed out and so much is changed that I didn’t have the same kind of empathy with Pat’s family. I also missed the therapist who played a major role in the book.

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