Tag Archives: Nights in Rodanthe

Review: The Best of Me

Recap: When Amanda and Dawson met in high school, they fell into the most rebellious kind of love. Amanda was from the good side of the tracks, Dawson from the bad. Dawson’s family was full of criminals, and Amanda’s parents wouldn’t have it. Amanda spent all her time with Dawson regardless, but when Amanda goes to college, and Dawson goes through a life-changing event, their relationship fizzles.

Twenty-five years later, they’re both headed to the same funeralĀ  in their hometown in North Carolina. Their friend and mentor Tuck has died. Tuck was the man with whom Dawson lived for a while, a man who, — later in life — became close to Amanda. Tuck was the man who allowed the two to spend time together when they were teens. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that they run into each other the weekend of Tuck’s funeral. And yet, the initial shock never wears off after Amanda and Dawson see each other.

It becomes clear to Amanda and Dawson that the love between them is still there. But their lives are not at all what they expected them to be. Amanda is married with a family. Dawson has a dark history that Amanda knows nothing about. Is there room for each other in the present, or is the past the past?

Analysis: If you like Nicholas Sparks books, you can probably guess how The Best of Me ends. Sparks uses the same devices he always does — long-lost love, years go by, love that shouldn’t happen, all set in North Carolina and somehow intertwined with death or illness. So if you like Nicholas Sparks, there’s no reason you won’t like The Best of Me.

Though I’m not the biggest Sparks fan, I somehow end up reading a lot of his books. This one doesn’t quite compare with his others — The Notebook, The Last Song, Nights in Rodanthe. The Best of Me includes a number of characters I didn’t care for, ie Dawson’s brothers. Not to mention, it was hard for me to believe or understand how, after 25 years, Amanda and Dawson could still feel as strongly about each other as they did when they were 16; and that all that love could come back in just the course of a weekend. Books can be romantic, and they can be fantasies. But if Nicholas Sparks is trying to tell a realistic love story, there’s simply too much fantasy here to believe it could happen.

MVP: Tuck. Though he’s only alive for a small portion of the book, he’s the heart of the story, the one who brings Amanda and Dawson together, the one who teaches them, comforts them and loves them more than either of their parents ever did.

Get The Best of Me in paperback for $10.98.

Or on your Kindle for $5.69.

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Review: Nights in Rodanthe

Recap: What if you had a second chance at love? Would you know right away? How long would it take you realize this person was “the one?” Nights in Rodanthe begs these questions in typical Nicholas Sparks fashion. It tells the story of a divorcee, Adrienne, whose daughter’s husband just died. Seeing her daughter struggle in her mourning encourages her to tell her the story she’s kept secret for 14 years.

Years ago, Adrienne spent a weekend at her friend’s Inn in Rodanthe to get away from her children, sick father, and remarried ex-husband. It just so happened to be a weekend that her friend rented a room to Paul Flanner, a talented, respected doctor. As Adrienne spends time with Paul, she begins to realize she’s not the only one with baggage. Paul is also divorced. He has a poor relationship with his son and stopped at the Inn to meet a patient’s husband, who is angry with him about his dead wife.

It sounds confusing, but Adrienne and Paul find simplicity and comfort in each other. And in just a matter of days, they are brought together by fate and love. But making it last beyond that weekend is where the complexity comes back to bite them.

Analysis: As I mentioned above, Nights in Rodanthe is a Nicholas Sparks novel through and through. It’s a love story — a depressing one. It inevitably involves loss and illness. It’s also very predictable. But you know what? It’s still good.

Every once in a while, I need to read a book that lets me clear my head, live in a fantasy, and enjoy. And for that, this is the perfect book. Each part of the story is expected, but it’s fun to live in a romantic fantasy world in which love conquers all, helps you grow, etc, etc, etc.

A few interesting things to note about this particular Sparks novel is that it’s the love story of an older couple. Those extra years means more experience and more baggage. For Paul and Adrienne, this is their second shot at a happy-ending love story. Most of Sparks’ characters die or become ill or go to war before they have a second chance. It’s exciting to think that maybe when you are older and wiser, you know better and fall for the right person — whether the timing is off or not.

MVP: Paul’s son, Mark. Though he has a seemingly minor role in the story, Nights in Rodanthe virtually revolves around him. And despite his youth, he’s one of the strongest characters. He’s not weak like Adrienne, and he’s not selfish like his father. It’s his actions that resonate at the end of the book.

Get Nights in Rodanthe for $8.

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