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Novel Review: The Silver Linings Playbook

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Words by Naomi Daniel

The Silver Linings Playbook is a novel by Matthew Quick, which centres on the protagonist Pat Peoples. Despite a restraining order and a four year stint in a mental institution, nothing comes between him and his journey to be reunited with his wife, Nikki. At first, this enchanting novel appears to be predominantly of love, but becomes overshadowed by a journey of hope and recovery. Almost immediately, we are entranced by Pat’s sheer love for life.

When speaking to his attentive therapist, Pat delivers perhaps some of the most inspirational and relatable advice, ‘you have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest and if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining’. It is this self-determination for happiness and progression that inevitably draws the reader in.
Pat moves home to work on his character, in the hope that Nikki will notice the change, and remove the restraining order. He revises his love for the Philadelphia Eagles, and takes part in daily physical exercise. Pat refers to this period of his life as ‘apart-time’, which is symbolic for his positivity to achieve his goals.

All the odds are stacked against him getting better, then just like that, Tiffany walks into his life. She is an odd, but intriguing woman who also suffers from a mental illness. The novel documents their growing relationship, as they become stronger as individuals, learning to trust again.

The Silver Linings Playbook could be described as a case study for mental health experiences as Mathew Quick invites the reader to look at the world from Pat’s distorted perspective. This is further exemplified by the first person narration, which allows Pat to record his thought processes.

Tiffany agrees to pass a letter on to Nikki, on behalf of Pat, if he compromises and competes in a dance competition as her partner. She grows close to Pat, as he is the only person in her life who can truly understand her. After the dance recital is over, Pat learns that Tiffany was never going pass on his letter, but simply forge replies herself, as a means for helping him move on. It also becomes apparent that Tiffany is in love with Pat. This part of the novel is truly heart-breaking as Quick accounts Pat’s realisation that he will never be reunited with Nikki.

On the other hand, as the title suggests, Pat discovers his silver lining eventually. Initially, this discovery is emotionally damaging, as he feels as though his efforts have been worthless. However, without realising it, Pat has grown into a heart-warming man, who needs Tiffany more than he realises. Quick serves up a happy ending, that brings Pat the closure he deserves.

In 2012, David O Russell directed the film adaptation for this novel, securing Oscar winner, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper as the main roles. This novel is worth reading for so many reasons. The infusion of comedy allows it to be enjoyable, as well as extremely thought provoking, and educational.

As Quick demonstrates within the novel, any goal is achievable, it just depends how hard you are willing to work for it. No matter how bad things may seem initially, there is always a silver lining along the way.

Naomi Daniel is an English and American literature student in her third year. She hopes to work in publishing, as well as become a children’s author. In her spare time she tutors English to primary school children and volunteers for the Make A Wish foundation.

About the author / 

aAh!

aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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  1. Rachel Brown 28th February 2014 at 5:13 pm -  Reply

    Beautifully written review. Sounds like a book everyone can take something from, going to order myself a copy on amazon 🙂

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