Published by Harper ISBN 9780062285560
Hardcover, $25.99, 400 pages
Some books just grab you right away, and I can add Matthew Quick's Love May Fail to that list. It begins with a card that reads:
Portia Kane, Official Member of the Human Race! This card entitles you to the ugliness and beauty, heartache and joy- the great highs and lows of existence- and everything in between. It also guarantees you the right to strive, to reach, to dream, and to become the person you know (deep down) you are meant to be. So make daring choices, work hard, enjoy the ride, and remember- you become exactly whomever you choose to be.
Then we jump into the first chapter where Portia Kane is hiding in her bedroom closet with a gun, ready to catch her pornographer husband red-handed in the act of cheating on her. Portia ponders how she got there. She used to be a feminist, but as she says,
"Being a feminist is so easy when you're a college freshman with enough scholarship money and financial aid to cover tuition, room and board. A woman with a clean slate. Compromises come with age."The scene between Portia and her husband, (with a very young naked woman also in the mix) is just funny and crazy and brilliantly written. My favorite line happens when Portia tells the young woman exactly what she is in for sexually with Ken, and as she is throwing her clothes into a weekend bag, she thinks, "Naked Ken watches me with his mouth hanging open, like I just invented fire." That one just had me laughing out loud.
Portia gets on a plane to go home to her hoarder mother. She sits next to a nun, who offers her an ear and some vodka, even though Portia has already got a good start on getting drunk. Portia spills her guts to Sister Maeve, who is a real pistol herself. Quick creates characters with whom I connected right away.
Portia's mother is clearly mentally ill, as most hoaders are, and Quick handles the character with empathy, creating a woman we care about and ache for, just as we ache for Portia having to deal with this alone her entire life as there was no father in the picture.
While she is home, she wants to find the high school teacher, Mr. Nate Vernon, who gave all of his students the Human Race card, and showed Portia particular kindness in her life when she needed it. She discovers that Mr. Vernon left teaching after an incident, and she becomes determined to help him.
As the story advances, Portia reconnects with a high school friend, now a single mom of a five-year-old boy. We also see what has become of Mr. Vernon, as he narrates the second part of the story. His story is moving.
Fate plays a big part in the story, and as does Portia's quest to prove that Mr. Vernon was right: there is human decency and goodness in the world, and people can become whomever they choose to be.
There are some plot points that may seem obvious, and then there are some that, when they come together, made me smile. Quick has put a lot into his story- faith, mental illness, family, love, friendship, a belief in yourself, and how handling things when life doesn't go your way builds your character.
I absolutely adored Chuck, a man who works hard to maintain his sobriety and wants to be a teacher. He is Quick's alter ego in this novel, (Quick was a teacher) and I felt he was the most believable character.
I sincerely hope that Love May Fail is turned into a movie like Quick's previous book The Silver Linings Playbook was. There is so much to love here and the characters are so strongly developed, they leapt off the page and into my heart. I give Love May Fail my highest recommendation. It's funny, sad, messy and complicated, just like life.
Matthew Quick's website is here.
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Matthew Quick's tour. The rest of the stops are here.
Matthew’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, June 16th: Book Hooked Blog
Wednesday, June 17th: Novel Escapes
Thursday, June 18th: 5 Minutes For Books
Friday, June 19th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Monday, June 22nd: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, June 23rd: A Bookworm’s World
Wednesday, June 24th: Bibliophiliac
Thursday, June 25th: Chronicles …
Monday, June 29th: she treads softly
Tuesday, June 30th: bookchickdi
Wednesday, July 1st: Into the Hall of Books
Thursday, July 2nd: Many Hats
Monday, July 6th: Bibliotica
Tuesday, July 7th: Becca Rowan
Wednesday, July 8th: For the Love of Words