The Silver Linings Playbook: Book Review by Asha Seth

Author: Mathew Quick | Genre: Romance | Pages: 289 | Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books

Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him—the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G!

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The Academy award-winning movie is one of my all-time favorites. This warm story of two messed-up, eccentric individuals, who eventually fall in love, will melt any heart. That coupled with the fact that it stars two of my favorite actors is more than what I can ask for. Apparently, I can never watch it enough. Reading the book however, was an impulsive decision. I had tried to dive in with no expectations because, well, as readers, we know better than that. But as I progressed with the book, I realised I did some have ulterior expectations. And even though my experience of the book and movie are world’s apart, I’ve tried to not let it influence my review of the book.

Some books appear so much simpler on the surface and no sooner have you started reading you realise you were wrong at so many levels. That feeling sort of persisted all through this book. Tackling an important issue such as Bipolar disorders is never easy; whether that is understanding, experiencing or writing about it. That said, the attempt here made by author Mathew Quick is phenomenal. He not only dissects every layer of it, but presents them to his readers under the microscope to feel it firsthand, through the lead characters – Patrick and Tiffany.

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What begins as a light rendezvous with the charming yet confused Pat soon turns into a rollercoaster of the most intense emotions that will shake the core of you. And before you know, you are just as much rooted into the silver linings and excelsior mantra as is Pat. Tiffany is a different ball game altogether. She is attractive, head strong, focused, bold. Basically, she is beauty with brains, and knows her game. It is her wits and dedication that helps Pat turn to a new leaf, and grab his silver lining. I felt there’s a lot to learn from Tiffany. Her optimism is infectious, and something that kept the spark alive for me.

Rest of the characters are just there. Pat’s father is a difficult figure for most part of the book, and I didn’t quite agree with his dislike for his son. I felt he could’ve gone easier and made the book a much happier experience. But whatever the other characters lacked, the lead roles bridged those gaps for sure. The reading is smooth except when all the football narratives kick in; which were awful lot. For someone like me who isn’t into football, those parts don’t make sense at all, and it is difficult to understand the relation with the core plot. Limiting them would’ve definitely made this reader’s day better.

Speaking of the writing, well, it is quite simple and engaging. That’s one thing I appreciated more and more because projecting the struggles of bipolar minds is not everyone’s piece of cake. The author knew what he was doing and how he had to do it. Although I believe there was clear lack of direction in some places because of certain instances that felt forced and unnecessary. For instance – Pat’s ex-wife Nikki, refuses to meet Pat because she has a restraining order on him. But Pat insists she meet him one last time. Obviously, Nikki doesn’t turn up. But guess who does? Tiffany. And why she does is a big spoiler but those who have read the book know what I’m talking about.

Overall, a very intense topic, meticulously-researched, simply-written, unforgettable characters, and yet lacked finesse, that could’ve made it outstanding. Or must I say, a critical editing eye is all it needed. In that regard, the screenplay does a fantastic job, super crisp, tightly-knotted, and knew just when and how to surprise the viewer. The heartwarming chemistry between Pat and Tiffany that stole breaths, is lost in the book. Having said that; and not comparing it with the movie, this book is sure to dazzle you with its hopefulness, the will to transform, and to keep looking for the silver lining, no matter what!

Have you read ‘The Silver Linings Playbook’? How did you like it? Share your thoughts in comments below.

Happy reading till we meet next. Until then, carpe diem! 🙂

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