"After all, she had known the kind of love that was worth risking everything for, the kind of love that was as rare as a glimpse of heaven." ~ The Best of Me
My exposure to Nicholas Sparks is limited to seeing the movie adaptations of his romance novels The Notebook, one of my all time favorite films, and Safe Haven, which made a decent movie, nothing more. The only other novel by Sparks I've read up until now is Three Weeks With My Brother, a memoir written with his brother, Micah, which I thoroughly enjoyed. When the film version of The Best of Me was released in 2014, I knew I'd want to see it, but this time I decided to read the book first! After all, Sparks is considered one of the premier romance writers of our time.
The story is the classic tale of two young lovers, Dawson and Amanda, from opposite sides of the tracks. Their love is doomed from the start, her parents and small town society forbidding the relationship. But when tragedy strikes tearing the two of them apart, life just seems to go on autopilot.....until fate would have them reunite twenty-five years later.
".....she'd lost sight of the person she'd once meant to be, and she wasn't sure she'd ever have the opportunity to find that person again." ~ The Best of Me
The death of a mutual friend brings the couple back to their small town where they grew up and fell in love, but things are different now, more complicated, and both have suffered horrible events. Amanda is married with three children and has learned that, while marriage is difficult under normal circumstances, becoming too familiar and predictable, it can become fatal when struck with tragedy.
Dawson, too, has lived a hard life of injustice coupled with the haunting fact he never was able to let his love for Amanda go.
Although the main premise behind the rich girl - poor boy love story is cliche, it is easy for the reader to quickly and easily get involved in their romance and in the touching back stories that bring them together once more.
"...and though in many ways a lifetime had elapsed in the years they had been apart, she had the uncanny feeling that they'd never lost contact at all." ~ The Best of Me
However, this novel, which is gut-wrenching at times, failed to evoke any deep emotions from me because it was so predictable. The ending was especially a disappointment because by the time I reached the last several chapters I knew exactly where the rest of the story was going - and I hate that! I like to be kept on the edge of my seat until the very end.
I believe Sparks now writes novels with the intent of them becoming screenplays. Even the story is written in the style of a script with "scenes" flowing the way a film does. He's definitely not the only author to do this, but nonetheless, it has a detrimental effect on the quality of the book.
Overall, I would recommend this one to readers of romance novels and those who have enjoyed his other books. Otherwise, and I don't think I've ever said this before, perhaps you're better off just watching the movie!
Someday I hope to go back and read The Notebook just out of curiosity. If any of you have read other novels by Sparks that you think I should give a try, please type it in the comments section below.
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