Discussion Questions

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t read the book yet, you may not want to read on.

1. Discuss the title. Who is the ‘ME’ in FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK? Why is this person requesting forgiveness?

2. Leonard makes liberal use of footnotes and also experiments with space—shrinking the lines of text to just a few letters (Chapter 25) and only putting a single word on each page (Chapter 30). How do these choices help characterize Leonard?

3. Why do Walt and Leonard communicate primarily through Humphrey-Bogart-related quotes?

4. Baback says Leonard has “first-world problems” in chapter 15. Leonard says, “I bet there are people in Iran who are happier than I am.” Quickly summarize both points of view. Why does each character feel the way he does? With whom do you most agree or sympathize?

5. In chapter 19, Herr Silverman says this to Leonard: “Different is good. But different is hard.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

6. Are Leonard’s letters from the future optimistic or pessimistic? What specifically do they tell us about Leonard’s outlook on life?

7. Leonard is a self-proclaimed atheist. Why does he ask Lauren to pray for him?

8. Consider the bike ride memory Leonard describes in Chapter 28. By the end of the novel, do you see Asher Beal as a victim or a villain? Why?

9. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Do the words tattooed on Herr Silverman’s arm relate at all to Leonard’s high school experience? How so or why not?

10. In chapter 33, Leonard describes an unusual painting of a tree “surrounded by the decapitated heads of famous political leaders … fallen … like rotten fruit. And a huge red X has been painted over the entire painting—like someone stamped it with a rejection.” Why do you think Herr Silverman purchased and hung this artwork in his home?

11. In chapter 37, Linda says to Leonard, “I spoke with your teacher, Mr. Silverman … He said you had your grandfather’s old war gun. As if that paperweight would ever fire, I told him.” Does Leonard know the working condition of the gun when he wraps it in pink paper? If the P-38 really can’t fire, does that change your view of Leonard? Does it make him more or less sympathetic?

12. Why doesn’t Leonard go through with the murder-suicide? Herr Silverman helps Leonard when he calls from under the bridge. Do any of the other characters save Leonard too? How so or why not?

13. In his fourth letter from the future, Leonard sends himself this message: “Weed your mind. And man the great light. Even when no one is looking.” Do you think Leonard will follow that advice? Why or why not?

14. How would you help Leonard Peacock?