The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I am about to say this for what I think is the very first time: I liked the movie better.
Granted, I did see the movie first, but in the past, that hasn't proven to sway my liking one way or the other. I saw the film adaptations of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Girl Interrupted, and The Princess Bride before I read them, and I liked all of those books just fine.
I really did like the movie. I thought Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany) and Bradley Cooper (Pat) had great chemistry onscreen, Robert De Niro did a great job playing the emotionally absent, and the supporting characters were nuanced enough to avoid falling into stereotypes (the brother, the therapist, the football fans, etc.).
However, the book really let me down. In no particular order, here are my grievances:
--I found the ending to the book to be--literally--incredible because the romance itself, from a reader's standpoint, never blossomed in the first place. We were essentially told that Tiffany was in love with Pat, but Quick never offered any details to persuade me that her love was genuine . . . or that Pat felt anything in return. That he comes to also fall in love with her in the very last scene of the book feels contrived and simply too neat and tidy for what should otherwise have been a relationship fraught with deception and mistrust.
--The relationship between Pat's father, mother, and Pat himself is never really explored. Their issues are laid out there for the reader to see (the emotionally absent, temermental husband doesn't appreciate the soft-hearted caretaking wife, nor is he capable of connecting with his mentally unstable son), but these issues never seem to serve any purpose other than to give us a sense of Pat's home life. The mother stands up to the father at one point, but to what end? Eventually things slide back to the way they were, with little change on the father's part other than that he eats the occasional meal at the table with his family and leaves the sports sections on the stairs for Pat to read (which I guess is supposed to prove he is trying to "meaningfully connect" with his son). The father remains superstitious about the Eagles throughout the novel, and unlike in the movie, it seems that all Eagles fans are equally superstitious in the book. Therefore, what was the point?
--Pat's relationship with his therapist never really comes to any sort of meaningful conclusion, either. In the movie, you can see his progress through his sessions with the Cliff, but in the book, these sessions seem to serve more as interludes to tell us more about Pat than they do as devices to further any character or plot development.
So, in short, this is one of those rare books I'd recommend skipping and watching the movie instead.
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