The Silver Linings Playbook
Warning: Small spoilers in some of the gifs.
If you were following my tweets on The Silver Linings Playbook, you may have noticed how much I struggled to keep up a witty commentary for this one (see poor attempt at humour above). In part, it was because the book was good; so good that I kept forgetting to come up for air, and would have quite happily drowned in it if it weren’t for you people (I joke, I joke). However, largely I struggled because I couldn’t bring myself to make light of what is a serious topic, and one that hit quite close to home.
That’s not to say that the novel itself isn’t amusing, but it certainly slips into the “black comedy” genre like the proverbial hand into a glove. Every laugh is accompanied by a wince, a pain, a “Honey, NO!” I became incredibly attached to Pat, with his child-like voice bringing out the mother-hen in me. It was jarring, to have someone talk about such adult topics as marital separation, with such childish vocabulary as “apart time”. On the other hand, that tone was part of what made Pat feel so well-rounded; as if losing a significant chunk of his adult memory, had somehow given him back the innocent optimism that makes children so resilient. It was a necessary part of him, and a necessary part of the book.
Silver Linings rang true in many ways. I recognised many of the secondary characters; the loving and over-protective, the untrusting, the awkward and speechless. The novel shines a light on how we treat mental health patients and shouts, “Don’t be that guy!” Obviously, having a loved one with poor mental health, can be a difficult world to navigate, but it starts with talking. It starts with truth. It starts with providing help in whatever form necessary.
I was also struck by Pat’s concept of life as a series of movies. It was something that I had been thinking about on the day of my graduation way back in July. It felt like the end of a movie, where I had run out of plot, and had nothing left to do but watch the credits role. Quick, however, has convinced me of the danger in this concept. If we live by a some secret self-made plot, then life becomes one long series of the same day; getting up, having breakfast, exercising, etc. etc., waiting for our story to start. It is only when Pat realises that life rarely works like this, that he can begin putting himself back together.
Ultimately, The Silver Linings Playbook is one of the few books I’ve read recently that actually kept me guessing, which means it automatically gets five stars from me. It is a heart-warming narrative of healing and acceptance. I would recommend this to anyone, but in particular, those suffering with mental illness, or those looking to find a better understanding of a friend, or family member with a mental illness. It may not give you 100% clarity, but The Silver Linings Playbook is a novel that knows scars don’t always fade completely, and that’s okay.