Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Warner Books
Publication Date: October 1st 1999
My Rating: 3 Starfish
Every April, when the wind blows from the sea and mingles with the scent of lilacs, Landon Carter remembers his last year at Beaufort High. It was 1958, and Landon had already dated a girl or two. He even swore that he had once been in love. Certainly the last person in town he thought he'd fall for was Jamie Sullivan, the daughter of the town's Baptist minister. A quiet girl who always carried a Bible with her schoolbooks, Jamie seemed content living in a world apart from the other teens. She took care of her widowed father, rescued hurt animals, and helped out at the local orphanage. No boy had ever asked her out. Landon would never have dreamed of it. Then a twist of fate made Jamie his partner for the homecoming dance, and Landon Carter's life would never be the same. Being with Jamie would show him the depths of the human heart and lead him to a decision so stunning it would send him irrevocably on the road to manhood... -Summary and cover image from Goodreads
*This isn't a spoiler-laden review, but I do talk a little bit about the relationship between the two main characters*
So, am I correct in assuming that every 90's child on the planet has seen the movie? I remember the first time I saw it when it came out in the early 2000s, and to this day it's one of my favorite movies (and one of the best love stories I've ever come across). The only difference between me and everyone else I knew at the time, was that I had never bothered to pick up the book. It's funny how so many girls rushed to the stores after seeing the movie to buy a copy of the book and re-live that beautiful love story. I'm not sure why I was the oddball that didn't. In fact, I never read anything by Nicholas Sparks. That is, until this past winter.
I finally borrowed the book from my sister. I was ready to see if the book lived up to the movie's impression on me, and to finally see what all the fuss was about with Nicholas Sparks. While I'm happy that I read it, I was pretty disappointed with it. It's not that my expectations were too high, but I was expecting for it to match the movie fairly well, which it didn't. I was worried at first that my knowledge of the movie would interfere with my enjoyment of the book, but as I read, the story sort of became a separate thing from what I've known it to be. I was able to get through it for that reason.
It wasn't like it was supremely awful or anything like that. It was just kind of dull and lifeless. Not much really happened. It seemed like the book was mainly comprised of scenes describing the setting or scenes with Jamie and Landon making awkward conversation. Well, awkward isn't exactly the word, but it definitely wasn't romantic in any way. I expected to at least feel the chemistry between the two of them. But I got none of that. Instead, it felt like the characters just didn't go together. By the end, I should have been rooting for them, but I couldn't even believe that they were truly in love. Their relationship wasn't cold, just lacking (I understand that he wasn't a fan of her at first, but even when he realized that he was in love with her, he just kind of said, "Oh yeah, I don't know how it happened, but I fell in love with this girl", and I thought it was odd how that was done).
Being set in the 50's was difficult to get into as well. I would picture a modern high school, and then all of sudden, he would talk about Elvis or something and I would be momentarily thrown off while my brain registered that the book was set basically 65 years ago.
Not every scene was completely unspectacular. There were a few funny ones, (like when he thought that the other boy was going to beat him to Jamie's house). I was laughing so hard when that part came up!
The thing is, even if I had read the book before ever seeing a trace of the movie, I still wouldn't understand why people thought Nicholas Sparks was a great author. Maybe some of his other stuff is good, and maybe there might be one that I would like better. But I honestly won't pick up anymore of his books. Sorry to those of you who love him. I'm happy for you that you found an author you can admire. He's just not for me.
I wouldn't recommend this book. (I will go to my grave praising the movie, though!) But I still give it 3 stars because it wasn't awful and it did keep me interested enough to read it all the way through.