Author: Nicholas Sparks
First Published: 2006
Page Count: 276
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 3/5 Stars
This novel sways from being a superficial love story to being a heartbreaking tale of a soldier’s life, until it finally finds itself in the conclusion.
*Touching conclusion *Story doesn’t revolve solely around main characters’ romance
*Love between main characters seems contrived *Annoying female love interest
“I finally understood what true love meant….true love meant that you care for another person’s happiness more than your own, no matter how painful the choices you face might be.” John floats through life without any goals or purpose until a spur of the moment decision places him in the army. He can escape his dull hometown and the father that he struggles to relate to. It seems like the perfect plan until he meets the woman of his dreams, Savannah. His commitment to his country will challenge him to find himself, hold on to love, and learn the meaning of family.
What drew me into this story was the fact that it wasn’t one hundred percent about the romance between Savannah and John. Both characters are thrown curve balls in their lives that, in turn, effect their romance. However, some of the most touching points in this book are moments that have little to do with their romance. In the last chapters of the book, so many different events take place that come almost out of nowhere and it’s refreshing to read a story beyond just the main romantic storyline.
But, as you might have noticed, I said these events happen in the last few chapters. That’s because the first hundred pages are used to build up the romance, but the “love at first sight” deal doesn’t really work for me in this book. It felt very superficial and the romance for this particular story can’t have that feeling because it has to stand the difficult test of time and distance. I had a lot of trouble believing in this relationship and even more trouble maintaining interest in the beginning of the story. Even worse was the fact that Savannah was a really annoying character to me. She was almost unrelateable because she seemed like a perfect person based on her actions and “goody too shoes” personality. She reminded me of Fanny Price in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park because perfect characters are just dull, and Fanny Price’s perfection brought down that story as well. And then of course, Sparks’s books do get a bit formulaic. Once the surprise wears off for some of the events that pop up in the story, the actions of the characters’ are fairly predictable. It’s something I both expect and cringe at whenever I read a book by Sparks.
Even with the negatives, books by Sparks are quick reads and if you’re looking for romance, he is my go to author. The beginning is rough but the reason I decided to give this a “pick it” instead of “skip it” rating was the ending. For once, there is no fairytale conclusion, and in our post 9/11 world, that works. Life, after all, is never perfect and it’s nice to find a book that looks at modern-day romance without rose-colored glasses.
*Film Adaptations: (Starring Channing Tatum 2010)