The Silver Linings Playbook is a bittersweet look at mental illness, the end of a relationship, grieving and acceptance. (It also has remarkably little to do with the movie that was based on the book, but that is fodder for another post.)
Thirty-something Pat Peoples is returning to his parents home after a stint in a psychiatric hospital. He knows not how long he has been there, but he knows that for now he is not allowed to see or speak to his beloved ex-wife Nikki and that she will only take him back once he one, recovers from his illness and two, becomes all of the things that she wanted him to be. Much to the chagrin of his family and friends Pat does not heed their advice about letting go and moving on. Readers are drip fed information about what went wrong between Pat and Nikki (a woman who, for all intents and purposes sounds like a stuck up cow, but then again, the reader is supposed to be on Pat's side,) whilst seeing Pat move on with his life--even if he doesn't realise it. Central to the story is Tiffany, a young eccentric and slightly damaged widow who may just be the perfect person for Pat ...
I absolutely loved reading this one, even if it was a bit of emotional roller coaster. None of the characters are perfect, which seems to fit in with the novels message about acceptance. Pat's relationship with Nikki was quite troubling to read about and it would be quite interesting to read a novel written from her perspective to show her side of the story--was she really a selfish bitch who incited her mentally ill husband so that she could gain all of their assets, or was it a tragic and violent end to a relationship that had passed its expiry date? Why was she wearing Pat's scarf at the end of the book? (That one haunted me for a while.) But, as the title suggests, not everyone nor everything has a silver lining.
It also offers a great insight into how mental illness can be stigmatised and the experiences of people as they try to return to their everyday lives.
Although the novel is quite sad in places, I highly recommend this one.