The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick is an interesting read. It wasn’t bad. It was intriguing and well written. It was obviously good enough to hook a major motion picture deal. But, for some reason, I just couldn’t love it as much as I wanted to. I couldn’t fall in love with any of the characters. I couldn’t really root for any of them. It’s like when I read McNamara’s IN RETROSPECT. I didn’t give a shit about McNamara, but I read it because it was about the Vietnam War, which interests me.
And then we come to the main characters: Pat and Tiffany. Pat, being mentally distraught, is one of the most unreliable narrators I’ve read in a while. But, throwing Tiffany into the mix was just a bit much. By the end I had no idea what things Tiffany said where true and which were lies, but they were all coming through the unreliable filter of Pat the narrator, doubly distorting things. I wanted to root for their relationship. For a solid 2/3 of the book I did, actually! But by the end, while I could see that she’s the only one out of his group that will ever be able to understand him, I didn’t see how they could move forward with a relationship built on such dramatic lies. How would he ever be able to trust her? How would she not question whether he secretly still loves Nikki? I just don’t see it.
Pat’s child-like narration also threw me for the first 1/2 of the book. I know he has amnesia, and I know he’s been in a mental institution, but it doesn’t explain why his voice is at least 20 years younger than he himself is. I get that he’s been through a lot of trauma, but the reader can totally grasp that from the hauntings of Kenny G. and his obsession with Nikki.
And then there’s the football. Oh, dear God, the football. I like football. No, I love football. South Eastern Conference all the way, baby! But after the first 1/4 of the book I started skimming whenever Pat or another male character would launch into paragraph after paragraph about plays and players and statistics and jerseys and… Geezus. I understand football is a major point of contention in the novel, but the way it was presented turned me off more than it pulled me in.
Despite my rather long diatribe, it really wasn’t a bad book. There were several laugh-out-loud moments and a few endearing ones as well. The turns of phrase were nice and the characters were fairly well-rounded. I’d give it a 3-star rating, meaning middle of the road fair. I’ll never reread it, but I’m glad I read it once.