Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: July 5th, 2012
They were teenage sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks - with a passion that would change their lives for ever. But life would force them apart. Years later, the lines they had drawn between past and present are about to slip... Called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter when they needed it most, they are faced with each other once again, and forced to confront the paths they chose. Can true love ever rewrite the past?
The Best of Me is only the second Nicholas Sparks book I've ever read, preceded by The Notebook which I wasn't overly impressed with. I've wanted to try more of his books for a while, mostly due to his huge popularity and sheer amount of movie adaptations of his work. The Best of Me is the latest Sparks novel to hit the big screen, which is how I came to read it in the first place. It's a good read, though I think he may have written better.
The Best of Me starts off quite slow, with lots of scene setting and character introductions. The writing seemed a little too in-depth and thorough, which honestly made the first eighty or so pages quite a slog for me. Luckily it got a lot better after that, and I raced to the end even though I'd already guessed the conclusion. I get the feeling all Sparks books start off fairly slowly, building to a heartbreaking finale that elicits tears and an overwhelming feeling of sadness. Am I right?
In The Best of Me, Dawson and Amanda are two people who fell in love when they were teenagers. They were forced apart by various events and are now in their early forties, meeting again for the first time at the behest of an old friend. Amanda has a fairly successful family life with a husband and children, while Dawson is haunted by his past and is very much alone. When they meet again, old feelings are revisited and they take a look at their lives and the mistakes they've made.
Dawson and Amanda took me a while to warm to, especially because of all the information and backstory I was immediately faced with. I did end up liking both of them, probably Dawson slightly more than Amanda, and appreciate their flawed personalities and the fact that neither one of them is perfect. They lie, keep secrets, make mistakes - everything real people do. Kudos to Sparks for keeping his characters real, rather than making them be an idealistic concept that just doesn't exist.
At times I found this book and its writing to be too cheesy and dramatic. I know that's the Sparks way, so I'll just take it for what it is - a romance designed to break hearts and put them back together again. The ending is hard to believe, but I guess it could happen someday, somewhere, so again perhaps I should let the realism slide and just focus on Dawson and Amanda's story.
In the end I liked The Best of Me, though I'm sure there are better Nicholas Sparks books awaiting me. A slow start somewhat hampered my reading, but as the story progressed so did my enjoyment of the novel. I'll read more by this author and I'll see the film adaptation of The Best of Me, safe in the knowledge that I know what's coming so it won't make me cry. I think Nicholas Sparks is good at what he does and he definitely evokes a lot of feelings from readers - his popularity shows he must be doing something right!
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