Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The SIlver Linings Playbook Review
I saw The Silver Linings Playbook a couple months ago, right before the Oscars, and enjoyed it immensely, so when I saw amazon offering the book for under $5, I picked it up, thinking it would be an entertaining read, which it was.
For those of you who saw the movie, the book is fairly similar. For those who didn't (first off you definitely should), The Silver Linings Playbook follows the story of Pat Peeples (not Solitano like the movie), a 34 year old NJ resident who is released from a mental health facility at the start of the book. In both the novel and the movie, the audience is unaware why he was committed in the first place but we know he has agreed to have some time apart from his wife, Nikki (referred to as "apart time" in the book) and that he desperately wants to win her back, although it is unknown what happened to drive them apart early on.
Pat moves back home with his parents. His father, Patrick, is obsessed with the Eagles. His emotions and relationships with his family are centered almost completely around whether the team wins or loses. Robert De Niro did a fantastic job portraying the father in the movie, but in the book, he's a distant figure who barely acknowledges Pat's existence. His mother is deeply unhappy and overly mothers the adult Pat, buying him clothes and babying him. Pat also sees an Indian therapist named Cliff (a huge Eagles fan himself who is part of a group of 50-something Indian fans who refer to themselves as the Asian Invasion and who go to all home games). He's on quite a bit of medication and no longer works (he used to be a history teacher).
Pat spends most of his days working out. He wants to be a better man for Nikki so he spends hours upon hours exercising. He also tries to catch up with the Eagles but he does not realize how long he has been gone for (four years) so he struggles to learn the new players and connect with his father and brother, the latter of whom buys him a Hank Baskett (yes, former Playboy bunny Kendra's husband) jersey. His father has been banned from games (clearly violent outbursts run in the family) but his brother, Jake, has season tickets and takes Pat to some games. He also starts reading classic novels that his wife teaches in her English class, from Catcher in the Rye to Huck Finn. Pat has come to believe that his life is a movie and that God will guarantee him a happy ending. Books without happy endings depress him further (although the movie has a far funnier scene where he throws a book out the window that he doesn't life).
He also reconnects with some old friends: Ronnie and his wife, Veronica. One night, they invite Pat over for dinner where he meets Tiffany, Veronica's younger sister, a depressed widow whose husband was a policeman before being killed in a drunk driving incident. Tiffany has dealt with her grief by becoming a bit of a nymphomaniac. She tries to proposition Pat, but he rebuffs her, explaining that he is married. Nevertheless, she begins to pursue him in a sense by following him when he goes for his 10 mile runs every day.
Eventually he learns that she has been scouting him to be her partner in a dance competition. The whole dance thing is very different from the movie - it isn't the culmination of the plot, nor is their victory part of a bet between Pat's father and one of his friends. In the movie, his training can be done as an actual montage, but in the book he tries to recreate a montage through writing, which is pretty funny.
I'm missing a lot here but I found the book to be pretty enjoyable. Not as directly funny as the movie but still an entertaining read. Pat seems more... special, I guess. Or maybe just drugged? This is hard to describe without being insulting. It seems like he's recovering from a brain injury, especially when he starts skipping his meds and he still narrates in a certain way. You'd think that an educated former teacher would seem more literate. His style of "speaking" was a bit off putting at times but the story is good enough that you can't help but cheer him on even as he finally figures out what happened between him and his wife. There is better closure at the end of the book than the movie in terms of his relationship with Nikki. Tiffany stays in the picture as well. Of course I kept picturing the actors when I was thinking about the characters, but that's ok. I'm not even a sports fan but I found all the Eagles love heartwarming (like the same way I feel when I watch Fever Pitch, one of my all time favorite movies. I couldn't care less about baseball but I just love that movie and appreciate the obsessive love that Jimmy Fallen has for the Red Sox) especially as you see Pat find his own little family unit among the Eagles fans.
The Silver Linings Playbook is definitely worth a read, especially if you also liked the movie!
Buy it at amazon and Barnes & Noble