March 2010, Grand Central Publishing
480 pages, Paperback
Fiction (Family and Friendship)
Emina's Recommended Rating:
Synopsis from BarnesandNoble.com:
#1 bestselling author Nicholas Sparks's new novel is at once a compelling family drama and a heartrending tale of young love.
Seventeen year old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller's life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alientated from her parents, especially her father...until her mother decides it would be in everyone's best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. Ronnie's father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church.
The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story of love on many levels--first love, love between parents and children -- that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that love can break our hearts...and heal them.
The beginning of the book started out describing Ronnie and the teenagers around her as stereotypical teens - rebellious and trouble-making adolescents who are self centered. It was funny at first, became annoying, but then I shrugged it off and tried not to pay too much attention to it.
Ronnie lives with her mother and younger brother, Jonah, in New York City. Her parents divorced when she was younger and her dad since moved to North Carolina trying to pursue his dream as a piano performer. Ronnie and Jonah are sent by their mother to go spend the summer with their father, Steve. Ronnie, who hadn't spoken to Steve since he left, was horrified and determined to be a stubborn as possible. Steve played the piano every day when they arrived and it drove Ronnie crazy. It was something she and her father used to share together when she was younger and she had vowed off the piano when he left. She expressed her anger to him and he built a wall around the piano so she wouldn't have to see it any more. As they become closer, Ronnie starts dating a volleyball phenomenon named Will. One of her new "friends" in the area is Blaze, a girl who was kicked out of her own home and slaving away to please a fire-obsessed boy who showed her no respect and had a fascination with Ronnie.
Ronnie slowly realizes that all the new people she met have one thing in common - a fire that ravaged their church. She, however, had no idea that what was going on in the relationships between the characters was tied back to the fire and back to Will's past.
When she learns the truth about everything Steve, Will and Blaze have been hiding from her, she is absolutely astonished.
If you read this book, I warn you to have a tissue box ready towards the end (sadly I didn't and my sleeves suffered because of it). Sparks prolongs agony for both the characters and the readers. More than once I wanted to throw the book out of my fourth-story window in frustration. It is a beautiful novel, but dangerously so.
Nicholas Sparks can be found on his website.