The Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick's much buzzed about debut novel, features a protagonist who is, for a change, earnestly doing his best to forge his way into adulthood … Pat is a fearless narrator; even his most outlandish delusions are so candidly expressed that the reader teeters between fear of heartbreak and the hope that Pat might actually yearn his way into happiness. It's a charmingly nerve-wracking combination … The book is cinematic, but the writing still shimmers. This nimble, funny read is spiked with enough perception to allow the reader to enjoy Pat's blindly hopeful philosophy without irony. After all, Pat's masculine ideal requires several traits that aren't always considered manly: kindness, wisdom, grace. You'll find it refreshing to learn that whatever the outcome, Pat's journey toward self-improvement is a silver lining in and of itself.
…[a] charming debut novel … Mr. Quick tenderly portrays Pat's small ambitions and the great obstacles he faces as he tries to keep his faith in silver linings. At home, his mother and father are having domestic troubles; his friends won't talk about his ex-wife. Worse, Pat can't seem to figure out why he split with his wife or how long he spent in the hospital … Mr. Quick guides the reader through the mounting tension — a braiding of hope, illusion, befuddlement and newly discovered truths. Not every cloud has a silver lining in The Silver Linings Playbook, but it is hard not to be moved by the fate of a man who, despite many ordeals, tries to believe in hope and fidelity, not to mention getting through another day with his sanity intact.
Pat is having ‘apart time’ from wife Nikki for unspecified reasons, although his uncontrollable rages drop a heavy hint. In anticipation of the ‘silver linings’ future when they will be reunited, Pat undertakes a manic exercise regime and reads the classics of American literature, searching for a happy ending. The ensuing send-ups of books including The Great Gatsby and The Bell Jar form the novel's wittiest passages. The rest is a schmaltzy, sentimental journey to recovery, all relayed by Pat in an irritating idiot-savant manner.
Pat Peoples, the endearing narrator of this touching and funny debut, is down on his luck … Our hapless hero makes a ‘friend’ in Tiffany, the mentally unstable, widowed sister-in-law of his best friend, Ronnie. Each day as Pat heads out for his 10-mile run, Tiffany silently trails him, refusing to be shaken off by the object of her affection. The odd pair try to navigate a timid friendship, but as Pat is unable to discern friend from foe and reality from deranged optimism, every day proves to be a cringe-worthy adventure. Pat is as sweet as a puppy, and his offbeat story has all the markings of a crowd-pleaser.
In Quick’s immensely likable debut novel, an emotionally damaged loser runs a complex pattern that transforms him into a hero we can all root for … If the novel were 50 or so pages shorter, it might have been terrific. But Quick allows it to bulk up needlessly, concocting too many scenes (e.g., at Eagles games) that are too similar to one another. Still, its judicious blending of pop-culture experience with richly persuasive characterizations (including a beautiful indirect one of Pat’s overburdened mom) make the book a winner.