As a would be writer, Nicholas Sparks is an inspiration. He writes simply, his stories are about ordinary people and not too complicated. His books often read like a Korean drama, my favourite activity other than reading. I thought to myself, I can write like him. And so I did, but that’s another story.
This book is one of the many of his books my friend Bee and I shared. Perhaps it’s written about people in our age group that we can identify with and so we enjoy some of his books. But lately, I find his books lacking as compared to his earlier works.
The Best Of Me is about a couple who reconciled after being apart for many years. Amanda and Dawson’s teenage love affair is like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, or Tony and Maria’s from West Side Story. Although happened in the 1980s, they were born in the wrong side of society and was doomed to part. Dawson went to jail for killing a man in a car accident, and Amanda married a dentist. The link they shared was this man, Tuck, whom Dawson stayed with as an apprentice when young, and whom Amanda maintained contact.
Tuck died and the couple is summoned to Tuck’s lawyer’s office to sort out his affair. They renew their relationship. Amanda, although in a troubled marriage, contemplated leaving with him. She had good reasons, her kids are grown, her husband is an alcoholic and she loves Dawson.
To add spice to the story, Dawson is pursued by his cousins who wants to kill him.
I can’t help comparing this book to The Bridges of Madison County, where a woman also struggles internally between her family and the man she loves. But unlike in Bridges, here in this book, we are gushed about how kind and good-hearted Dawson is, and how bad and weak Amanda’s husband is. There is no reason for Amanda not to go to Dawson, except for her snobbish mother and his crazy cousins. The long-winded story also goes on and on about Tuck’s love for his wife, which I don’t see the connection or relevance.
Sparks tries to add a touch of mystery by the appearance of a strange man who had saved Dawson many times. This makes the book somehow out of touch with reality. The two leads are also boring and the other characters are a distraction.
It’s not easy making ordinary dramas interesting, but here, Sparks tries too hard.