This book has been on my to read list for a long time. I don’t know why I took so long to get round to it, as it’s a book I was certain I would love, and I was right.
The Silver Linings Playbook reminds me a little bit of The Rosie Project and a little of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but for me personally I think it’s a cut above both of these novels. What they do all have in common is a protagonist with a unique outlook on the world. In this case, it’s Pat Peoples, a 30-something who has recently been released from a mental institution. His perspective is naive, innocent and unwaveringly optimistic – although Pat has lost a number of years of his life to a mental breakdown and is estranged from his wife, he believes in silver linings, saying:
“If the clouds are blocking the sun, there will always be a silver lining that reminds me to keep on trying, because I know that while things might seem dark now, my wife is coming back to me soon. Seeing the light outline those fluffy puffs of white and gray is electrifying.”
But, despite Pat’s incredibly hopeful outlook, things are not right. All of the photographs of his wedding and his wife have been removed from his family home – his mother tells him a burglar stole them all, but Pat’s not so sure. Then there’s the incident which put Pat in the institution in the first place, which he can’t quite grasp from his memory. And why does the song Songbird by Kenny G. make him want to hit something?
As Pat struggles to piece his life back together, he is supported by a host of characters – his enduring mother, his cold father, his down-to-earth brother, his unconventional therapist and the recently widowed dancer, Tiffany. Each character is 100% believable and they all bring their own influence to Pat’s story, helping his recovery in their own way. But whilst the supporting characters are excellent, the star of the story is definitely Pat. From the first few pages, I loved him. The writer has set the tone of voice perfectly, his optimism is infectious, and I sympathised with Pat’s plight every step of the way.
As part of Pat’s plan to get his wife back, he embarks on reading a number of books from her English literature syllabus. There are entire chapters dedicated to Pat’s point of view on classics such as The Bell Jar and The Great Gatsby. Pat is unhappy with their lack of silver lining, but it works as a clever way to give a subtle nod to some classic literature in a modern novel, and I really enjoyed these parts.
I don’t want to say a lot about the plot of this book as I think it’s best read with as little spoilers as possible, but The Silver Linings Playbook is one of those books which will have you welling up on one page and laughing out loud the next. I haven’t seen the film but I’ve seen a number of reviewers comment that the film is better than the book – if that’s the case, I can’t wait to watch it. This book has even been compared to The Fault In Our Stars, and whilst I wouldn’t draw a direct comparison myself, they do both carry themes of finding light even in the darkest situations. This isn’t a lighthearted story – there are dark, underlying themes which highlight the fragility of the human psyche – but it is uplifting. Because, whatever happens, you can be sure that Pat will find a silver lining.