Silver Linings Playbook
"Life is hard, and children have to be told how hard life can be…So they will be sympathetic to others. So they will understand that some people have it harder than they do and that a trip through this world can be a wildly different experience, depending on what chemicals are raging through one’s mind."
Author Mattew Quick's Silver Linings Playbook begins with protagonist, Pat Solitano, returning to his home in New Jersey after an undefined period of time in a mental institution for bipolar disorder. Pat is under the impression that he has been gone for only a year, during which time he spent bettering himself for his wife for when their "apart time" is over. Pat spends most of his time following a strict workout routine and working on "being nice instead of right". Pat returns to find many unpleasant changes, one large one being the destruction of his favorite place in the world, the Veteran Stadium, home to his beloved Philadelphia Eagles, where he spent most of his childhood with his brother and friends.
Not everything has changed in Pat's home though- his father is as cold towards him and his family as he has always been, spending most of his time secluded in his office away from his family with the exception of Eagles game days when he drinks, cheers, and curses with his sons, allowing the Eagles success or lack there of to determine how he treats his family for the next week. Pat, in his recent attempt to be more sensitive to women in order to be a better husband to Nikki when they are reunited, notices his mother struggling with the behavior of her husband, who neglects his family and appears to resent Pat for his mental challenges.
As Pat tries to re-assimilate into his life at home, with his family who does not seem to understand his longing to be reunited with his wife and his new psychiatrist and medications, Pat is also trying to figure out how to handle another woman, Tiffany, introduced to him by his best friend Ronnie, who is wrought with psychological challenges of her own.
Tiffany is introduced to Pat with a warning that she has been struggling mentally after losing her husband. Tiffany is a unique character with strong and very forward social habits that are overwhelming and confusing for Pat when he first meets her. The two develop a strange relationship, as she persistently pursues Pat in more ways than one despite his rejections due to his greatly anticipated reunion with Nikki.
Tiffany offers to act as a mediator between Pat and his wife, whom he is led to believe he cannot not see until after he has improved himself mentally and as a husband. In return however, Pat must help her in a duet routine for the showcase, "Dance Away Depression". From here the author provides a montage of the building of a dance routine and a friendship as Pat and Tiffany appear to need each other more than they initially realized. Pat finds that Tiffany is the only person that he can relate as he struggles with his angry fits, his ill-informed memories, and his fragile relationships with his family and friends.
Silver Linings Playbook presents an inside, close and personal view into the mind of someone experiencing a psychological issue and we are shown the stages of denial, relapse, acceptance and improvement and every emotionally challenging step in between. Not only does the author of this book provide a truly insightful look into this all-too-common issue, but he does it in a way that manages to be incredibly moving, but witty and comical at the same time. The author demonstrates the effects that mental illness has on not only the affected individual but on one's family and friends as well. Most importantly, the author, through Pat, tells the reader that if one strives hard enough even after the most traumatic of experiences, it is possible to reach one's silver lining.
It is very difficult for me to limit my synopsis, because every line of this book is worthy of discussion and appreciation. It is a quick and addicting page turner with a very laid-back, dry and comical style that manages to take a very emotional and frankly sad subject and portray it in a way that provides a sense of relatability and hopefulness. It is really worth reading, so I don't want to include any spoilers. Not only is this book heart-wrenching and startling, but it also advocates so strongly for hope, for determination, for friendship and family, and for acceptance and understanding. I could not recommend this book more strongly.
For Fans and Non-Fans
The role that the Philadelphia Eagles play in this book is not so big a role that a non-fan would want to avoid it, but it is also enough to satisfy a die-hard fan who can't get enough of Eagles game day traditions, tailgating, and anti-Dallas propaganda. For a non-Eagles fan, the story itself (aside from the Eagles) is one of the most profound, moving, and relateable stories I have ever read. For an Eagles fan though, the story reminds us (I say us, as I was born and raised right outside Philadelphia) of a season that gave us both immense hope, excitement, and heart-breaking disappointment. Despite what may have been heard about this book, it is not a book about the Philadelphia Eagles. It is a story of a young man coping with a mental illness that has affected his marriage, his family and his loved ones, and his attempt at reconciling everything that was damaged in hopes of reaching what he calls his "silver lining". The storyline simply happens to coincide with the 2006 season, and there are plot elements that interweave with individual games and players, as Pat's family is from South Jersey and live for the Eagles, but the team is merely one of the things that helps Pat achieve his silver lining.
For an interesting article concerning both the film and the book's relationship with the Philadelphia Eagles, click this link for an article in the Hollywood Reporter, by Tatiana Siegal.
“Most people lose the ability to see silver linings even though they are always there above us almost every day.”
If you have yet to see this film or read this book, please read it first. I am not against watching films based on books, but the film does vary greatly from the novel. For example, the film follows an entirely different season than the story in the novel follows. It has large differences which surely add to the effectiveness of the film, but they are a downgrade from the original story in Matthew Quick's book.
That said, I strongly recommend seeing the movie as well. The film was released in the US November 16th, 2012 and was an instant and enormous success and has since been nominated for eight Oscar nominations including Best Lead Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Lead Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Picture, and Best Director (David Russell). It was also nominated for four Golden Globes, with Jennifer Lawrence winning best actress, three BAFTA (British Academy Film Awards) nominations, three Screen Actor's Guild nominations and five Independent Spirit Awards. Silver Linings Playbook received its debut at the 2012 Toronto International film festival where it was awarded the TIFF People's Choice Award. The script took director, Russell, multiple years to write because the original story is emotional and tragic but is also very funny and romantic. The genre of the film has thus been appropriately named, according to IMDB, an American romantic comedy-drama.
Other important cast members include Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher and Julia Stiles. The film has so-far earned nearly $79 million in the box office.
Matthew Quick grew up in Oakland, New Jersey and graduated from Collingswood High School (which is the same town that Pat and his family live in, in the story). Quick received his degree in English Literature from LaSalle University and an MFA from Goddard College. He left his job as an English High School teacher to write Silver Linings Playbook (which ended up being a great choice). He now lives in Massachusetts with his novelist wife, Alicia Bessette, whom he dedicated the novel to.
Silver Linings Playbook was his debut novel, published originally in 2008. His 2012 novel, Boy 21, has been favorably reviewed so far. He also published Sorta Like a Rockstar in 2010.
For more information on the author, his works, and the film adaptation of Silver Linings Playbook, visit his site here.