The Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

by Matthew Quick

Somehow, The Silver Linings Playbook was turned into an Oscar-winning movie even though the book on which it was based is weak. They tell the story of a thirtysomething man who has spent years in a mental hospital and emerges determined to get his estranged wife back. The book opens with Pat’s returning to his family home in a New Jersey suburb of Philadelphia, sustained by his mother and ignored by his father. He meets a widow—the sister-in-law of his hometown friend—who has issues of her own. It’s no surprise that their relationship becomes Pat’s salvation, but the way it develops, and the widow’s own back story, are hard to believe.

Before we find out what Pat did and why his wife had a restraining order against him, we endure endless repetition of compulsive workouts and Philadelphia Eagles fanaticism. Especially annoying is Pat’s language; he talks like a kindergartner. He doesn’t want to return to “the bad place” (the mental hospital), and he longs for the end of “apart time” (the restraining order). It’s impossible to believe that Pat had been a high school teacher. Despite the upbeat ending, this book does a disservice to those who suffer with mental illness by equating it with a low IQ.


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