The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick is the story of Pat Peoples, a mentally unstable optimist. As our narrator, Pat can only show us what he remembers and understands of his world, making him an impressively unreliable storyteller. Pat’s sole goal in life is to improve himself both mentally and physically in order to win back his beloved wife, even though all his family and friends are set against their marriage. Quick shows how everyone in Pat’s life is affected by his instability, and how each character copes with it.
In many ways, Pat acts as a child. He has immature names for aspects of his life, such as “apart time” and “bad place.” It was unnerving to see a grown man’s extreme dependence on his mother, to see how vulnerable and temperamental he is. He throws what are essentially temper tantrums, but as a mentally unstable adult they are uncontrollable and often violent.
It was also an odd experience reading a story set in South Jersey – Quick often references places in Collingswood, Oaklyn, or the Cherry Hill Mall, but I felt that this actually enabled me to further visualize the scenes. Overall, however, I was surprisingly disturbed by this book. Pat narrates the story, and therefore we only know and understand what he does. Pat’s confusion, desperation, and anger was upsetting and heartbreaking to experience. However, the fact that the novel had such an effect on me proves that it is a piece of quality literature.