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Silver Linings Playbook: Addressing Mental Health Issues Through a Humorous Lens

grisscorner-the-silver-linings-playbookBefore it was the Academy Award-nominated film, “Silver Linings Playbook” by Matthew Quick was a novel full of raw emotion, mental illness awareness and a hilarious yet non-reliable narrator named Pat Peoples.

In the novel, it is never confirmed nor denied that Pat suffers from a brain injury or gets diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But it is through the support of his older mother that he is able to return home after his time in a mental hospital in Baltimore and figure his life back on track. Pat’s father, however, is slow in coming to terms with what has happened to Pat.

To say this did not shake up the Peoples family is an understatement. Pat takes up a constant exercise routine that includes running around his small town neighborhood. This is when he meets Tiffany, a local neighbor who is grieving the loss of her husband. Pat, who is unsure of the location and well-being of his wife, sympathizes with Tiffany.

The two connect through their shared interest in a dance competition, while they go to their scheduled therapy appointments. Pat works his way to getting better, strengthening his relationship with his father and trying to find out when his wife will return to him.

It isn’t until the dance competition draws near that Pat’s questions are answered, only to lead to a possible relapse for him. More questions pile on about Tiffany, about Pat’s mother, about how much time he spent in the hospital and how the Philadelphia Eagles will do in the upcoming football season.

This book does an excellent job with depicting mental health through the use of Pat’s narration skills. We see the world how he sees it and understand what he’s going through first-hand. With this, we get caught off-guard with the changes in Pat’s environment at the same time as Pat does. It helps the reader understand first-hand what goes on in the mind of those with mental illnesses.

Pat meets with his therapist, Dr. Patel, both inside the therapy office and outside. The two characters have a connection unlike Pat’s other relationships within the novel. While we are unsure of the intentions of Tiffany and his parents, we know where Dr. Patel stands in regards to Pat. He’s one of his truest friends.

I thought the movie adaptation fit along with the plot from the book very well. Perhaps the most important thing about the book-to-movie transition was it kept its important message about mental health, all while keeping up with the book’s original comedic timing and random moments of drama.

This book is certainly one I recommend, as it allows a view into the life of someone living in a world that thinks he’s a threat to society or just plain weird. Mental health is something we can’t just take lightly and “Silver Linings Playbook” gives a great, funny start to creating legitimacy for those with bipolar disorder.

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