At its heart a love story, Breakable You reaches beyond the obvious permutations of relationships, delving into the more complicated regions of the human heart where reason is diminished and emotion rules.
The Wellers are sophisticated New Yorkers, educated and urbane, at ease with the vagaries of the city. A semi-successful novelist, Adam Weller is in his sixties and in the throes of career angst, currently enjoying the charms of a much younger paramour, vaguely irritated by his ex-wife’s insistent victimhood, anxious to move on with his life.
Adam’s ex, Eleanor, is a psychologist who finds comfort in sorting out the problems of others until she is forced to confront her own. Recently Eleanor has come into contact with her first love, a man who challenges her perception of happiness and the choices she has made in marrying the arrogant Adam.
Maud Weller is clearly the child of her parents, with a love of knowledge as evidenced by her doctorate work in Philosophy. A loner, Maud is content with her own thoughts and her books - until she meets Samir, a Palestinian housepainter. Despite his apparent lack of interest, Maud is immediately and irresistibly drawn to the quiet, taciturn Samir, who desperately fights his attraction to her, submitting in an unexpected moment of abandon at the end of their first date, a life-changing encounter.
In a surprising burst of tenacity and compassion, the once-emotionally fragile Maud persists in her pursuit of Samir, at first entirely physical, revealing a generosity of spirit and inquisitive nature that is extraordinary. The enigmatic Samir is a wonder, after all, confessing to Maud: “The day I met you I tore up all my maps.”
Meanwhile, Maud’s parents deal with their mid-life challenges. Eleanor embraces the long-unexplored territory of broken dreams while Adam embarks on a less distinguished path in an act of duplicity that will bring him literary success at the cost of his integrity.
Morton dissects his characters with an astonishing and unflinching ease, exposing the flawed yearnings and hidden aspiration behind the outward façade of daily life, but the heart of the novel, the love between Maud and Samir, is both heartrending and inspiring.
From the profound observations of humankind to the excruciatingly painful wounds carried in secret, Breakable You is a remarkable exploration of the true meaning of love, loss and the moral compromises that betray the soul, a reminder that: “You’re forging your own character during every minute of every day, with every decision you make.”