Confession, I was swayed to read the book based on all of the accolades and hype that the movie version has been receiving. I wanted to see the movie from the previews, but missed its initial weeks in theaters, so I thought that I had better read the book first. Books are nearly always better than the movie version. However, after reading Matthew Quick's novel version, I making a tentative guess that the screenplay is stronger than the novel.
The book is good and I probably would have enjoyed it more, if I had not gone in with high expectations driven by the success of the movie adaptation.
The Silver Linings Playbook, centers around the character of Patrick Peoples, a man in his mid-thirties, who has just been released from a mental institution and is living with his parents as he tries to piece his life back together. He obsesses over his ex-wife, as he can't remember several years of his life, including his break up or what landed him in the institution. He befriends his neighbor, Tiffany, a young widow who has been in a deep depression and has moved back in with her parents.
The problem with the book is that it's a bit clunky, especially towards the middle of the book when a bunch of the story (including character motivations) is revealed through letters. The letters really bog down the pacing and don't do much to develop the character of Tiffany, who has a great backstory that's barely explored. Tiffany and Patricks friendship is developed more through Patrick telling what they did, rather than letting us see the moments and the scenes play out.
The story is very Patrick-centric, but it is a tease, as it is filled with great minor characters who are unfortunately minimized. The book could have been longer and more fleshed out, especially with regard to Pat's parents. It ends on an rather abrupt note and I was left wanted more.
The brilliance in Quick's writing, is his ability to create multifaceted, sympathetic characters. He writes characters that are relatable. I've spent time with mentally unstable family members (ex's family) and I felt like Quick nailed it. I immediately remembered the walking on egg shells feeling and not knowing what would set the person off. Quick captured that awkward, uncomfortable dynamic perfectly. I also felt like he really got in the mindset of Pat, as someone who is unstable, but constantly trying to do his best and please his family. It's often heartbreaking. This book has many uncomfortable moments.
I'm excited to see the movie version, as I feel like this book was a great foundation for a potentially even better screenplay.