Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Reads: The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

My Reads: The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks





         The time I realized that I do have this innate zeal for the written, as much as my love for writing, I swore to myself never to box in books written by specific novelists or writers and just focus on the contents, subjects and stories themselves. And I did read without getting to know the minds behind the titles. I praised some books, be disappointed by others and was indifferent to a few for the stories themselves.  I did not want to be awed by some specific names after reading their bests only to be drastically disappointed with their few badly written releases.  But then, I came to meet THE Mr. Sparks in the form of a 2nd hand (God knows how many hands it had passed through) paperback I picked up for Php 20.00, along with other few finds in a garage sale along Colon Street way back 1997 while killing off boring free hours during freshman college.  That book had a printed image of an old colonial house porch overlooking a vast plantation.  I read it overnight and I swore after I finished it that it’s going to haunt me for a long time.  I guiltily wished that someday, it’d be turned into a movie because I thought the love story I just read deserves to be told to a wider audience knowing only a few heaps would choose to read. I did not know back then that that book was the beginning of a man’s feat on a genre not many writers would choose to dwell on.  And yes, the novel was adapted into film many years after (2004) which ultimately became a classic to most women.  The Notebook became my first favorite novel by Nicholas Sparks and ended my thoughts, well just most of the time, that I can’t have favorite authors.




         So much for the introduction....

         I just really wanted to write about Mr. Sparks latest published novel, The Best of Me.  My blog on this literary piece maybe a little bit late since this was released late 2011, but this is how I always do it. I don’t buy books when they’re still on the best seller’s list or at least during the height of its popularity…or most probably I just failed to prod some friends of giving me a copy of one after posting it as a wish list on facebook.  Whatever the real reason, I am just glad I’ve gotten me a copy now.  I bought my copy while rushing around the mall looking for some hardware items when suddenly, in autopilot, I found myself being led to the familiar red and white ensemble of National Bookstore, not ACE Hardware, mind you. I paid Php549.00 without hesitation.

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“Everyone wanted to believe that endless love was possible. 
She’d believed in it once, too, back when she was eighteen.”

In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply,
 irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, 
their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. 
But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, 
unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.
Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental 
for the funeral of Tuck Hostetler, the mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance. 
Neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives. As Amanda and Dawson carry out the instructions Tuck left behind for them, they realize that everything they thought they knew—about Tuck, about themselves, and about the dreams they held dear—was not as it seemed. Forced to confront painful memories, the two former lovers will discover undeniable truths about the choices they have made. And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead: 

Can love truly rewrite the past?

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         Did I like it? Let me give you a peek into the pages.
         (Warning: Spoiler Alert)

         Dawson had lived under the shadows of notoriety since his birth from being a Cole.  Growing up without a mother, beaten to nothingness by his father everyday, running into ruthless cousins and having to succumb to the heavy unforgiving stares by everyone in town for his last name, he had managed become a different Cole and stayed in the comfort of his low-profile solitude under the care of a widowed elderly man, Tuck and earning the deep admiration of the town’s princess, Amanda Collier.  And in the spring of 1984, in the quaint little town of Oriental, North Carolina, young Dawson and Amanda fell deeply in love.  But with the harsh reality of being from the opposite side of the track and wanting the best for Amanda, Dawson unwillingly let go of the girl who’s the only reason left for him to live.  After years of tragic turn of events, Dawson is living away from his ghost town, content with a regular job and the idea that he’s meant to be alone forever.  It was only the passing of an old friend Tuck would bring him back home and would have him cross path with Amanda, still the only woman he loves and long for.  Amanda, who is still the most beautiful woman who had graced his life.  Amanda, who married someone else.  Amanda, who is still deeply in love with him over the years.  The meeting will somehow bring to a close what they both left ajar that wounded each other.  Which part of the past will they relive? Is love enough to sacrifice what is presently yours?

        The character that made me read it pages to pages is Dawson.  Apart from the personal reason for him being a mirror image of someone I know, just given Dawson’s character from start to finish, he has such a pure gentle heart considering his supposedly dark roots.  He did not have a real family to see what and how love is but he was more capable of loving truly and eternally than any man with the finest life can ever offer.  The love he has for Amanda over the years is breathtaking. And the downright honesty thru his gestures amid the cruel fact that Amanda is already married was so brave of him.  Like Amanda, I thought being with Dawson will make you feel the safest that no one can ever hurt you.  I also admired Amanda’s non-pretentious presence all throughout the story.  Other women may try to hide all the desires in her head but Amanda is as transparent as she is opinionated. She knew that the more she’d talk about the past with Dawson the more she’ll feel the pain over and over again but she will blurt out everything in her mind…past, present and future and questions that will make Dawson not want to answer fearing it will put her on a complicated spot but Amanda was more than willing to hear everything.  Tuck and Clara’s love story was a good and lingering inspiration for the two main characters.

As always, it reaffirms my love for North Carolina.  Mr. Sparks just brings you right there and then to the very scene.  The mystical Neuse River, the cozy way Tuck’s home and garage grows organically with the woods, and the enchantment the cottage at Vandemere gives what with all those wildflowers growing in the meadows is just enough to make you fall in love.

       The story will somehow bring you back to some scenes in your life when you were forced to question your choices in life and the present you are willing to gamble on or run away from.  This book, though not perfect as I wish it to be, made me realize again that sometimes, we choose paths where we think might be the easier way out from something and not considering that this way out is an entry gate to somewhere you will never be able to get out of without running over things and even people you love.  And only then when we realize that those complications have nothing left for us but regret and lessons too late.  

       Just like other Spark’s works, the man did not fail to splurge on its main ingredient, a great love story with a very bittersweet ending.  Sometimes, this kind of route may sound too predictable to most readers, including Sparks' fans.  I think there were 2-4 characters which should have not deserved the length of their POVs in the novel.  I personally feel some other 2 characters would have deserved more appearances than the formers. I think there’s a loophole on Dawson’s father.  Even though the father was never any good after all, I’m sure Dawson would have wanted to know what happened to him when he came back to town.  I was depressed over the ending.  Even with the very predictable plot, I was not prepared for the ending.  I know I’ve read all of Sparks' books and he likes draining me of my tears, I just could not accept how it ended that way.  Well, maybe in time, I’d understand why it has to be but I believe there would have been more memorable ending than that one even if he wanted a painful one.  Even though I wished for another ending, I still can say that I love the book because it affected me more than I was ever prepared for. I can give it 3.5 out of 5.  Sparks’ fans who have not read this yet will be happy to note that “that kind of love” Sparks had reinforced in us through all his novels is undeniably there.  I can’t expect you to share the same sentiments of how it ended but I know over-all you’ll include this in your favorites list just because of Dawson, at least for me.

      Can love truly rewrite the past?

      Yes it can, and it does not have to be the past.  We all have our own pens to hold and unless we write only of our true intents and our hearts desire, the past will always become something we wished not happened.  Write of today…of something that you know you will still be writing about tomorrow until your last sunset.  Choosing something for your own is not always a selfish choice.  You can run away from it but one day or another you will still have to face the question. Your destiny is your story to make.

2 comments:

  1. I love this: "Choosing something for your own is not always a selfish choice." Just followed your blog. :)

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  2. I love it when book characters remind us of people we personally know.

    I buy books when they're not new as well. I don't really like being mainstream. Haha. I haven't read this book though.

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