The Friday Review; The Best of Me, Nicholas Sparks

This book has been widely appreciated, read and even turned into a major motion picture featuring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan. It is easy to understand how I got my hopes up.

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Unfortunately, for me this book was:

a) not sad

b) not moving

c) predictable.

I hate to critique Sparks, the writer of the wonderous The Notebook, a classic film and book that has you reaching for the ice cream and the tissues. I must have seen the film at least five or six times and I still cry at the end. Whilst Sparks’ writing is truly beautiful, The Best of Me was disappointing.

I’ll try to write this review without spoiling too much of the plot.

I love the relationship that is laid out from the start between Dawson and Amanda, two childhood sweethearts who unfortunately break up when it’s time for them to go their separate ways at university (or college). They lose touch completely and reunite about twenty-five years later with much the same feelings as when they were teenagers. They have not fallen out of love, but Amanda is now married with three children and Dawson Cole has been emotionally stunted after breaking up with Amanda and has not been on a date since.

It was at this point that I understood the novel was supposed to be really sad (knowing this after my housemates watched the film and were crying continuously for twenty minutes by the end). So I was thinking ahead to why it could be sad: was either Dawson or Amanda going to die? Was one of her children going to die? Was her mum going to die? Basically, for it to be sad, I knew that someone had to die and I wasn’t sure who or how it would happen. Again, I won’t give away any of the ending here, but I was unsure as to how this book could pan out.

For me, the ending was far too predictable. When I still had around fifty pages to go, I knew what was going to happen, who was going to live and who was going to die. Did it make me sad once I’d figured this out? Yes and no. I didn’t want the character to die that I thought would, but I still wasn’t completely overwhelmed and upset when it eventually happened, which made me reconsider: are the characters completely relatable and developed? For me to cry, I would have to feel like it was my own brother or sister dying, but I just wasn’t sad.

I had so much hope for this book, and I really did enjoy it. The finale was still a letdown, and, for me, that’s the most important part of the book that should leave you with some sort of sadness that the book is over. I would definitely still read any other Nicholas Sparks novels, and I would be really intrigued to watch the film version.

Overall rating: 3/5

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