Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

"Everyone wanted to believe that endless love was possible. She'd believed in it once, too, back when she was eighteen."

In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply, irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.

Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental for the funeral of Tuck Hostetler, the mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance. Neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives. As Amanda and Dawson carry out the instructions Tuck left behind for them, they realize that everything they thought they knew -- about Tuck, about themselves, and about the dreams they held dear -- was not as it seemed. Forced to confront painful memories, the two former lovers will discover undeniable truths about the choices they have made. And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead: Can love truly rewrite the past?

There used to be a time when I lived and breathed Nicholas Sparks books. But then I started broadening my reading horizons and these type of romance novels just kind of fell to the wayside for me for a very long time. I would read one sporadically every few years or so, but they weren't constantly by my bedside as they had been before. But then I found out that James Marsden was going to be in the movie version of this one and I knew that I had to snatch it up. I know, I know ... why pick up a book because a certain actor is going to be in the movie. It's really not a good reason but I kind of grew up watching everything that he did ... my mom worked in the same school as his aunt ... his aunt would give us these autographed pictures from him ... at the time, it was THE coolest thing in the world. Then when I was sitting in my high school drama class one afternoon, guess who walks in ... yep! James Marsden ... well ... it was Jimmy back then ... but anyhow he had graduated from my HS and had the same drama teacher ... anywhooo ... (very) long (and useless) story short, finding out that James was in this movie intrigued me and I knew that the book had to be good in order for him to sign on with it. 

Sooo ... yes, I realize that this review needs to be about the book and it is ... just after that whole first paragraph of useless info. Okay, from the first page of The Best of Me, I knew that it was going to be gut wrenching. What Nicholas Sparks novel isn't?!? But this one just started off in a different place than I remember all of the other ones ... except maybe Message in a Bottle ... but it started off very somber. It started off with complete and total heartbreak. Now, that isn't what the novel is even talking about in the first part, but you can just sense it. This will sound crazy, but the sadness is almost tangible. And true to Sparks fashion, you fall in love with Dawson from the very beginning. You can't even help it. You feel for the guy and you want to make it better for him. 

The rest of the novel goes about the same way ... the main characters of the novel become close to you. Almost like they are long lost friends or someone you were close to in another life. You feel for them as if they are real. That's one thing about the way this author writes, he is going to make you feel. I won't lie, most of the time it's heartache. I knew when picking this book up that I would need to make kleenex at the ready but I didn't really cry this time. Don't get me wrong, it was sad. All of his novels are sad. But this one didn't really shock me as others have in the past. I even noted about halfway through the book that I was waiting for the gut-punch but it never came. 

Another thing worth noting ... for the first time while reading a Nicholas Sparks novel, I actually predicted the ending. I was totally wrong about how the ending came about but I knew that it was going to happen and that was a little disheartening. I don't like being able to predict endings but I did on this one. All in all, a great novel ... one that is like a slow burn, there's no rush, no urgency ... you're just left to soak up the details. After putting this one down, I have a few Sparks novels that I need to catch up on. I didn't realize how much I had missed them. 

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