I first read Silver Linings Playbook shortly after I saw the movie – and I absolutely loved them both. Matthew Quick is back with Love May Fail, and I love this book too. The feeling is somewhat similar, it was an emotional book – following the fallout of Portia Kane’s divorce, and her return to her hometown in New Jersey – just outside of Philadelphia. The city itself is familiar territory, and is also the scene for Playbook. Quick is actually from the Philadelphia area, but now lives in North Carolina, along the Outer Banks. His stories themselves are somewhat odes to the city itself, with its locations and teams both featured.
Portia married her husband after a troubled childhood, living alone with her mother, who is a hoarder and mentally ill. She never really knew her father. So in high school, when she meet Mr Vernon, a popular English teacher, he makes quite an impression. Most of us have had a teacher at some point in our lives who have inspired us, he is that teacher for her. As she faces crisis in her life, she remembers him and all the encouragement he gave, and faith he showed her. In the beginning of the story she leaves her husband, leaving behind the life of luxury she knew with him in Florida, and returns to her mother’s home in New Jersey.
She is broken, and has lost faith in all good things. She clings to the memory of Mr. Vernon, and upon her return to Jersey, she realizes what an impact he had on the lives of so many of his students. He was the one who made a difference – inside and outside of the classroom. I know teachers like this, and want to be a teacher like this. He inspired her – and I can only dream being that inspiring. On one of her first days back in town, she runs into an old classmate and friend, and one of the first things she does is ask about Mr Vernon.
This is the part of the story that really got to me. Mr. Vernon was once a beacon of light – to her, and to so many other students. This beacon of light had kept her afloat for so many years, years after their relationship ended at the end of her years in high school. She decides to look him up when she gets back into town, not only to thank him for being that light for her, but also to try to find that light again. She then finds out that he was brutally beaten by a student, in front of a room full of students. Not only was he forced to retire, but he lost his motivation to teach, to lead, and that light that she so desperately needs.
The characters in this book are what make this story great. We all need a beacon of light in our lives, which is what makes this story so relatable. Mr. Quick has a new story coming out this Spring, and I can’t wait to read it. I also can’t wait for Spring. As much as I love to read, I feel like I’ve been bundled up too much lately! There hasn’t been a single snowflake today and my daughter’s Pre-K class has already been canceled!!!