Author: Matthew Quick
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Publication Date: January 2008
Length: 289 ( 7h 22m)
Series: Stand Alone
Audio or Book: Audio Book (Reader: Ray Porter)
Reason for Discovery: On Sale & Enjoyed the Movie
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!
Pat has been living in a mental health institute for a long time. His mother decides that he has been there long enough and gets him released into her custody. Pat is very excited about this, because he feels that with some hard work, he can end "apart time" with his wife Nikki. Before Pat entered the mental health institute, he and Nikki agreed to separate for a little bit of time. With the help of his therapist Cliff, the Philadelphia Eagles, and his new friend Tiffany, Pat might be able to regain the life he desperately wants.
A few months ago, I watched The Silver Linings Playbook. I thought it was a charming and quiet movie. I found a few rough edges in the movie, but all of my minor annoyances with the movie generally got swept away by the time the credits rolled. When I saw the audio book waw on sale, I decided to pick it up. I promptly forgot about the book until I had to drive to Pittsburgh and saw that it was the perfect length for driving there and back (~6 hours round trip).
The Silver Linings Playbook is so lovely. Like the movie, this is a quiet character transformation piece. There is excitement and surprises throughout the book, but it is a character piece about someone struggling with mental illness. Speaking of that, I found that this book did an excellent job of portraying mental illness. In the movie, Pat is labeled with a particular mental illness. I did not completely agree with this diagnosis. In the book, Pat is not given a diagnosis (at least I didn't notice one), and I thought this was a better choice. What Pat is experiencing in this book and his journey to recovery felt quite genuine. I didn't feel like I was rubbernecking someone else's problems, which I typically feel when I am reading fictional accounts of mental illness. Generally speaking, I like people's memoirs of their struggles with mental illness, but this book is makes me want to take a second look at fictional accounts. I also want to note that I really liked Cliff, Pat's therapist. Cliff did some things that are not traditionally appropriate for a therapist to do; however, Quick's portrayal of Cliff was much better than most therapists that I see on television or in books. In my real life, I study psychology, so poorly written accounts of mental illness and/or therapists is a pet peeve of mine (you should watch me watch Grey's Anatomy).
I thought that Quick did a great job of showing one man struggle with his mental illness within a family that is going through their own problems. Usually books like this only showcase the person with the mental illness or showcase that person within a totally crazy family (e.g., drug abuse, sexual abuse, or physical abuse). This book did a fantastic job of showing an everyday family deal with a difficult situation.
A big part of this book is Pat and his family's love of football and the Philadelphia Eagles. I thought the Eagles talk worked really well within the story; however, I can understand if this could be a turn off for someone else. All you need to know about football to appreciate what is happening in this book is that the Philadelphia Eagles play football.
If you are considering reading the book and seeing the movie, I would recommend seeing the movie first. You will be spoiled for a few things, but I think you will be able to enjoy both better this way. The movie makes some drastic changes from the book that work well for the movie, but I think I would personally be angry with these changes, if I had read the book first. I should note that the rough edges that I noticed in the movie were all smoothed over when I read the book. The rough edges in the movies appeared, because the movie people had to make changes to condense the book. The book is much smoother.
Audio: I thought that the reader was really greater. Tone, pacing, and inflection were fantastic. Porter also did a nice job with changing his voice for the different characters. I was really happy with his reading, and I will seek out other books read by him.
Overall, this was a pleasant read. I give this book a 5 out of 5.