My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received an ebook copy from Netgalley.This book is so many things and all of them add a different element that makes it hard to put down.
This story is a glimpse into the life of a troubled teen who has figured out how to slip through the cracks and play the system. He is alone in the world, dealing with some major issues and feeling as if no one cares. He uses the fact that his birthday has arrived and no one seems to know or remember as an excuse for what he feels must be done. He must end his life and the life of his former best friend.
We are on the journey with him as he goes through his day saying goodbye to the four people who he has connected with in the past few years.
There's Walt, his elderly next-door neighbor, who has introduced Leonard to Humphrey Bogart movies. The two will spend full days watching the movies and quoting lines back and forth. Walt is the first to notice that something is wrong with Leonard but he lacks the means to do more that voice mild concern.
There is Baback a fellow loner student. The two have an odd sort of friendship. Leonard spends his lunch period (and his lunch money) listening to Baback play the violin.
There's Lauren, a devout Christian who tries to bring the light of Christ into Leonard's life. His recounting of how he met Lauren is in a way absurd but completely fitting with Leonard's character.
Herr Silverman, Leonard's Holocaust class teacher, is probably the most important person in Leonard's life. He's the kind of teacher we read about in books and wish we had in school. Like Walt he notices that something is not really right with Leonard on this day and he tries, as best he can, to reach out and offer help.
Leonard is that smart ass kid who thinks he's smarter than his classmates. He's got a sense of humor that I love seeing in characters, but it's shadowed by this darkness. You see this in the letters written to Leonard from the future (that's all I'm going to say about them because I don't want to give too much away). As the story progresses we learn about the cause of his darkness. It was at this revelation that and the following events in the book that really made me feel as though this was the best novel I've read so far this year.