I loved this book! The Best of Me is, as sad as I am to say it, the very first Nicholas Sparks book I have ever read. Why? I have no idea, because he is an amazing author. His writing style is impeccable and just draws you in. With that being said, I will be reading more Nicholas Sparks books in the future.
The Best of Me is a story about two high school sweethearts, Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole, who, despite all odds against them and coming from two entirely different worlds, fell in love in high school. They came from a small town in North Carolina, Oriental. After their senior year of high school, just as they are getting ready for what the future has in store, they are torn apart and set off on two very different roads. The story goes back and forth between their love in high school to the present, twenty five years later, when they are both brought back to Oriental for a funeral of a mutual friend, Tuck. Both Amanda and Dawson have lived their lives, but not in the way they thought they would, and they both can remember how passionate their love was for one another. While in Oriental, they are forced together and pushed to face their memories while uncovering truths about themselves.
This is a story about young love, and how, even though years can pass, feelings sometimes do not go away. The theme of right and wrong and morals is strong throughout the book, and it leaves you wondering which decision you would essentially want Amanda to choose. I was torn myself, as a reader. You see the love that her and Dawson have for each other and really wish for them to have that love and happiness in their lives. Yet, you are also aware of the new life she has had with her husband and her children. Even though they have their challenges, they are the path that she chose.
As someone who has found and is still with the love of my life, I could not imagine not having that. I can’t imagine not being with the one you love, your best friend, your soul mate, and it really tugs at the heart to know that Amanda and Dawson have had to give all of that up and go their separate ways. You realize that not everyone has a marriage full of love and in that sense, I was hoping for the passion between them to be reunited. Yet I was also very aware of her present life with her children, and didn’t want her to leave what she had forged with Frank. The whole time I was reading this book, I didn’t know which decision I wanted Amanda to make. I can’t even imagine the internal struggle she was faced with. It was very evident how hard it was in her words to Dawson and in her inner monologue.
I loved the way Sparks wrote, linking memories from the past with the present and filling in the blanks by jumping time frames. His characters are so well developed. I felt as though I knew exactly who they were while I was reading, almost as though I had grown up alongside them and had been witness to their love. I love how Tuck has gotten to know the two of them so well and as his dying wish wants them to come to the realization of their true feelings. Yet he is not one to push too hard, he just puts the wheels in motion and allows them to make their own decisions. Tuck was a very smart man.
The ending really ties things together in a way you’d never imagine possible until the last few chapters. The irony of it all is so very sad, yet stunning. Sparks knows just how to wrap things up so you’re not left wondering.