Matthew Quick has written an absolutely captivating story in his best seller Silver Linings Playbook. Most people will know this story from the film adaptation starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. While this adaptation is just as wonderful as the book, it took a turn towards Hollywood when it ended with a predictable on the nose scene. The book is deeper in a lot of ways, while both examine the same themes.
This book is a clear psychological examination of those who develop a mental illness very suddenly. Jenny Lawson takes a biographical point of view when examining lifelong mental illness in Furiously Happy. Quick uses a fictional story to display how emotional trauma can bring on a sudden shift in someones ability to psychologically handle every day life. For the narrator, Pat, it was the shock of discovering his wife in the shower with another man. This event threw Pat into a dark spiral in which he brutally beat the man his wife was having an affair with, and ended up in a high security mental facility. Upon his release he quickly meets Tiffany, who went through a similar experience when her husband died suddenly. She went into a spiral of sexual encounters that resulted in her losing her job and living at home. They eventually find each other and become dance partners which leads to a one sided romance for Tiffany.
While mental illness is the main theme, it also examines the dangers of an extreme love of sports. Pats experiences as a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles helps bring him closer to some people and tears him away form others. He experiences a high tolerance for violence, and a low tolerance for mental illness. He sees a mentally ill football player ruthlessly roasted by Eagles fans who encourage him to commit suicide. He also witnesses Eagles fans taunt the fan of an opposing team and his son to the point where the son cried and Pat knocked the fan out. Pat’s father’s love of the team leads him to push his family away. The reason for Pat’s short temper and his failure as a husband becomes clear when Pat’s father violently yells at his wife because the Eagles lost.
Overall this book is a gem. It looks like a sports story on the surface, but it is so much deeper than that. It makes people think about multiple points of views and what needs to be done for the sake of those we love. It is a book I highly recommend, and the audible audiobook available for free to audible members is definitely worth listening to.