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An enchanting first novel about love, madness, and Kenny G. The Silver Linings Playbook is the riotous and poignant story of how one man regains his memory and comes to terms with the magnitude of his wife’s betrayal. During the years he spends in a neural health facility, Pat Peoples formulates a theory about silver linings: he believes his life is a movie produced by God, his mission is to become physically fit and emotionally supportive, and his happy ending will be the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. When Pat goes to live with his parents, everything seems changed: no one will talk to him about Nikki; his old friends are saddled with families; the Philadelphia Eagles keep losing, making his father moody; and his new therapist seems to be recommending adultery as a form of therapy. When Pat meets the tragically widowed and clinically depressed Tiffany, she offers to act as a liaison between him and his wife, if only he will give up watching football, agree to perform in this year’s Dance Away Depression competition, and promise not to tell anyone about their “contract.” All the while, Pat keeps searching for his silver lining.”

I was really skeptical about reading this book because of who forced a copy on me. I’m glad I gave it a chance. I was hooked from the very first line and though I did not want the ending that happened to happen I can accept it. I wanted beyond a doubt a terrible ending for Pat so his silver linings would be crushed forever, but he got a semi-happy ending.

The book was well written and engaging. I found myself not wanting to put it down and would read it for hours at a time without noticing. The character’s mental illnesses were often subtle (his hatred of a certain singer to the point of an obsessive phobia) or so over the top that he sounded worse off than he was (his obsession with getting his wife back was so severe that he sounded like he had a lower IQ that his character supposedly had). Despite these issues of mixing up disorders and symptoms, the book still allowed for a good read that let people who have no experienced mental illness get a first glimpse into the world. It was made clear that different people can have different issues and that people without mental illnesses can have issues relating (Pat’s father and Pat’s friends), but it also made the characters with mental disorders seem slower and less capable than others (Pat’s mother had to cook for him and clean for him constantly).

I have an issue with the way that Pat’s therapist and therapy sessions were portrayed. The therapist had a relationship with Pat outside of the office and was willing to do impromptu therapy sessions in a bus and was willing to just talk about football (even praising Pat for punching a rival fan in the face) in the actual therapy office. This therapist despite being able to talk with Pat was not an accurate representation of a good therapist. If the author was trying to show that this therapist was bad, then he did a great job.

If you can ignore all of the psychology issues in the book (most people can, but psych nerds like me get hung up on them if they start to think about them) then the book is a gripping read. You will want to know more about the big bad thing that Pat did. You will root for Pat to get his wife back, you will root for Pat to do anything to make his life better, you may even find yourself start to look for the silver lining in everything.

I do recommend this book especially to people who are trying to understand a partner’s mental illness (despite the flaws) as it was more engaging than most memoirs about mental illness have been. I wish I had this book to explain my mind to people when I was going through a really tough time. It is truly well written, well voiced, and a good read.

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5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book

You can buy this book here.

~Isaiah

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