THE BEST OF ME is the heart-rending story of two small-town former high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks. Now middle-aged, they've taken wildly divergent paths, but neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever altered their world. When they are both called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter, they will be forced to confront the choices each has made, and ask whether love can truly rewrite the past.
Why I Read this Book: I look forward to each new Nicholas Sparks release. He writes it, I buy it. I don’t even have to read the blurb. Then, when they make a movie based on one of his novels, I buy the DVD. It’s not too often I read a Nicholas Sparks novel. Or I should say it’s not often enough. He releases one book a year and I’ve read most of his backlist. There are 3 of his books I have yet to read (The Wedding, Three Weeks With My Brother, and Safe Haven) though they are on my bookshelf. I had been anxiously waiting to read The Best of Me ever since Nicholas Spark started tweeted about it during his writing process. And even though I had other books to read, this book shot straight up my TBR pile and into my hands. It is what it is folks. Priorities and all that. Needless to say, I’m a HUGE fan.
What I Liked: The characters in this novel, and their story, will stay with me for a while. They have continued to stay on my mind and I find myself still thinking about this book, even months after I have finished reading this novel. It’s a hard thing to shake off. (Confession: I read this book back in October 2011, started writing my review, but never finished it until now.)
I like how The Best of Me rattled my emotions. Part of the time I was reading it I didn’t know how to feel. I was conflicted. I was (am) conflicted with the outcome and conflicted with my emotions towards this story. It took a while to absorb it all.
Neutral Territory: (I totally made this section up just for this book.) One thing I was anxious and nervous about while I was reading was the ending. I kept wondering how is this going to end? How can it end? The way The Best of Me ended, well, I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it either. I have to admit the circumstances in the ending were a bit too convenient, maybe even farfetched. And it was a bit eerie. Yes, I cried. I cried my freaking eyes out. And yes, my heart ached. But it’s a book that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
What I Didn’t Like: There were times when I thought to myself this sounds familiar, I think I’ve read this before and that’s because there were a few parts that reminded me of The Notebook. As much as I loved The Notebook (both the novel and the movie), I’d rather read fresh material.
I wasn’t a fan of the narrative parts from Ted, Abee, Candy or Alan’s POV. I could have done without them.
Overall Impression: The Best of Me was not my favorite Nicholas Sparks novel but I enjoyed reading it nonetheless. Like with most, if not all, of this his novels, you will need tissues for this one. His fans will definitely want to read this book and have a copy for their collection. If you’re new to Nicholas Sparks, then I would suggest you start with another book, like The Notebook (the movie is pretty much spot-on with the book) or Message in a Bottle (the movie strayed from the book a bit but I still enjoyed both). Nicholas Sparks remains on my list of auto-buy authors and I’m looking forward to the movie adaptation of this novel as well as his next release.
You’re probably wondering if this book has a HEA. (That is the number one question I get when it comes to a Nicholas Sparks novel.) Nicholas Sparks is known for writing books full of emotions; everything from happiness and joy to heartbreak and mourning to everything in between. He takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotions. It’s what he does and he does it well. Without giving too much away, I will say this: in order for a book to be considered a ‘romance’ by most readers, there must be a HEA for the main characters involved. If you look at the top of my review where the book information is, you’ll notice that I labeled this one as a ‘contemporary fiction’.