Well this is novel. Me actually fulfilling a commitment to writing something as promised in my last post. And btw it hasn’t taken me this long to finish The Silver Linings Playbook. I just needed time to consider what it meant to me – honest.
I picked up this book because I saw the film – which I very much enjoyed. I also picked up this book because it deals with mental instabilities. It’s actually the second book on the trot that I have read which has addressed this topic – the previous was Under the Same Stars by Tim Lott. Whereas that story was less about the ongoing battle inside the protagonist’s head – though we learn fairly early on he has suffered depression and continues to take (or not) medication – our hero in Pillowbook (Pat) is in constant mental turmoil about what he knows, what he remembers, the pressure to change his behaviour, holding back on anger and frustration, fear of “the bad place”. And I guess this is why the film just doesn’t cut it. Certainly not in representing the details of Pat’s constant fragility or communicating the various strands of his mental state. Can a film ever do that I wonder. I suspect it probably can, and may well have done in the past – my movie knowledge is not that extensive – but an Oscar destined and money-spinning film is less likely to come close to portraying the reality.
Anyway. I digress. This post is intended to be a book review not a film critique.
So. This is a great read. Told in the first person it gives incredibly moving insight into the mindset of Pat. His everyday train of thought is portrayed honestly – sometimes raw, sometimes comically, often desperately. He strives to be good, caring and a better person so that his dream, his raison d’être can be realised.
We meet him as he is released from a psychiatric facility on the understanding that his previous behaviour and actions (we don’t learn what these were just yet) change. He moves back in with his parents – a loving mum that tries very hard to protect his fragility; a dad who simply doesn’t know how to deal with his own life anymore, let alone Pat’s. Soon the dynamic of Pat’s new life changes when he meets a kindred spirit in the form of Tiffany. She’s been through difficult times that effect her current mental well-being – though these materialise in different ways to Pat’s. They strike up a kind of friendship based initially on a deal of mutual benefit.
I’ll leave my synopsis there. Leave it up to you to read and enjoy. However I wanted to finish with how this book made me feel about my own experiences because I absolutely felt my way through this book – if you get me. I was often moved to tears because it touched something in me that was very personal, something that’s difficult to put into words, something that I know others will have felt. The author, knowingly or not, did something for me that no amount of therapy or even talking with piers hadn’t managed to reach. I can’t explain it and sorry it’s so vague. Please please read the book, even if you have seen the film. Even if you haven’t been to the place (or anywhere near) that Pat talks about because I don’t think that this book can fail to find something in you that you may well not have known before.