Nicholas Sparks

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

Oh, Nicholas Sparks.  You really know how to get right to the core of a woman’s emotions and make us cry like a baby.

The Best of Me” is about two forty-something high school sweethearts, Dawson and Amanda.  While they were high school sweethearts, it was a Romeo and Juliet type of romance that didn’t last.  They went their separate ways after Amanda’s wealthy family didn’t approve of rough-around-the edges Dawson.  Twenty years later and after going two completely different directions with their lives (Amanda: married with two kids; Dawson: bachelor working on an oil rig), they are brought together again by a common thread between the two – a man named Tuck.  Tuck was an older man who took Dawson in as a teenager when he had nowhere else to go, and later, Tuck became a confidant of Amanda’s.

When Tuck passes away, Dawson and Amanda are drawn back to their hometown to take care of the arrangements but don’t know that the other one will be there.  While they’re getting to know each other again and wrestle with their conflicting feelings, they also have to worry about Dawson’s family, who are the troublemakers around town and aren’t happy to see him back.

I’ve been on the fence about some of Nicholas Sparks‘ books… there have been a few that I’ve loved, and a few that I wasn’t as crazy about.  This is one of the ones that I really really liked.  And it made me cry, so there are some bonus points.  I won’t tell you where it made me cry, but there were a few different spots.  The feeling of loss and sadness and love just really hits you.

Could I see this book being made into a movie (like a million of his other books)?  Absolutely.  I just hope it wouldn’t be ruined with the wrong casting.  Let’s see… a forty-something male and female… the male would have to be kind of rugged but handsome… the woman would have to be more polished and a pretty Southern belle… and then they’d need an old, quiet grumpy man (but not grumpy as in Clint Eastwood in “Gran Turino”, because that’s the wrong kind of grumpy)… I don’t know, I can’t think of names or faces right now.  If I think of some suggestions of actors to cast, I’ll update my post.  Any ideas?

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

I’m not sure how I missed this new one that came out at the beginning of September, but I did.  I would have downloaded it right away otherwise.  I really love Nicholas Sparks’ novels.  In fact, his one book, “The Guardian“, is basically the book that got me reading again after going through a reading drought all through school.

In “Safe Haven”, Katie, a pretty young girl in her late 20′s, arrives in a small seaside North Carolina town.  She’s new to the area but is able to get a job as a waitress and finds a rental house in a secluded area away from the main part of town.  She is trying to keep to herself and just work and survive, but she’s drawn into a friendship with her new next door neighbor, Jo, who also just has moved in.  Katie learns a little bit about the town from Jo, particularly about Alex, the owner of a grocery/general store in town that she’s been frequenting.

Alex is handsome, friendly, and has two adorable kids.  Katie is typically on the quiet side when she goes into his store, but Alex tries to talk to her and notices that Katie starts opening up when interacting with his daughter.  One day while Katie is shopping, Alex’s son who was fishing off of the dock behind the store falls into the water.  While Alex jumps in to rescue him, Katie comforts his daughter.  This situation helps to bond Katie to Alex and his family and she finds herself getting in deeper and deeper and developing feelings for all of them.

The problem is, Katie is running.  Katie had escaped a horrible life back up north with an abusive husband.  She randomly chose this small town because she knew that he would have a difficult time finding it.  Katie has purposely tried to not develop friendships or feelings for anyone in the event that she has to pack up and leave immediately if her husband finds her.  She struggles with her developing feelings toward Alex, not wanting to hurt him or the kids.  She finally does admit that she’s falling for Alex and isn’t going to let her past get in the way of their relationship, although what has happened in the past always comes back to haunt…

I really really really (yes, three reallys) liked this book.  I don’t know if I’ve been disappointed by any of Nicolas Sparks’ books (only the movie versions), but I just really liked this one.  I HAVE heard this same story in other books (I know I’ve read other books by other authors with a very similar plot), but the way he tells it is just better.  More romantic.  And I am going to admit that I cried.  Very few books can make me cry, but Nicholas Sparks books often do.  Not till the end, though.

If you’ve read and liked any of Nicholas Sparks’ other books, you must go out and pick this one up (or download it, get it out of a library, whatever you do to obtain books!).  I just hope they don’t make it into a movie because I think it would totally ruin it.  I’m still mad that they casted Miley Cyrus (*gag*) as the lead in “The Last Song“.  I refuse to watch that one.

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

Dear John” has been on my radar for awhile but I never got around to buying it.  I’ve read almost every other Nicholas Sparks book except “Nights in Rodanthe” and maybe one or two others.  I decided to download this book and read it now because the movie is coming out and I figured that I should know what’s going on in the world.

I do enjoy Nicholas Sparks’ books, but something about this one… I don’t know.  Maybe I’m tired of unrealistic love stories.  I did like reading the book, but the story just seemed a little… fluffy (is that the word I’m looking for?).  The story is about a young man (John, duh) in the Army who meets an innocent, sweet girl named Savannah while he’s home from Germany on break.  They fall in love immediately and it’s the whole “opposites attract” thing: he used to be a rebel and a troublemaker (not anymore – the Army straightened him up), he drinks, has tattoos, etc,; she is young and naive, she’s a virgin and doesn’t drink, she likes volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in her free time.  They fall in love immediately but then John has to go back to being stationed in Germany and they lose touch, especially after he re-ups his service commitment after September 11th.  Needless to say, it doesn’t last.  There’s another part of the story that focuses on John’s relationship with his father and that part is sad.

The movie (although I haven’t seen it yet – is it even out yet?) kind of ruined the book for me because in the book, Savannah has brown hair, and Amanda Seyfried is a blonde.  Not like it makes a HUGE difference, but I like to imagine the characters in my own mind and hate when I keep thinking of the actors that they cast instead.  I have no desire to see the movie – I’m sure it could never beat “The Notebook” for me.  Plus, Amanda Seyfried’s eyes are distracting.  It was a sweet story and everything, but I’ve liked some of Sparks’ other stories better.  “The Guardian” was the first Nicholas Sparks book I ever read and although I don’t really remember the details because it was several years ago, it was one of my favorites of his.  If anyone sees “Dear John” the movie, let me know how you like it!

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Jaci has read 1 book toward her goal of 35 books.
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