This is gonna be short and sweet, like the book itself. The story is set in a small town, Edenton, in North Carolina where everyone lives like a small family (I’ve read a pretty decent amount of stories set in such environment and they always have this warm feeling to them that you’ll feel right at home). Denise isn’t overly worried when she’s stuck in a storm; but crap hits the fan when she meets with an accident and come around only to find her four year old son missing, who won’t respond to calls. Hours later when everyone is simply on the verge of giving up, Taylor McAden swoops in and tracks him down at last. As mother and son recover from the incident, they bond with the McAdens which blooms into something beautiful. But Taylor’s past won’t let them live in peace for long. Now it’s up to him if he wants to save his relationship.
Let’s talk about the plot itself. It took me just a little while to relate to the protagonists. I mean it wasn’t exactly hard, but my usual reading consists of fantastical teenagers with magical powers, not single mothers and firemen in their thirties. But their problems were realistic, the plot was realistic. It almost didn’t feel like fiction. I loved how Sparks has portrayed the development of Kyle, who has problems with understanding words and participating in speech. It brought tears to my eyes when he finally walked up to Denise and said, “I wuff you,” it was a beautiful moment. I fell in love with his way of talking, all those sounds he made when he tried to speak, and they were adorable. Most of the times I find small children in books annoying (for good reason, or not), but Kyle was a good lad, I liked him.
To discuss Taylor and Denise’s relationship, well, it was a valid one, yanno? I mean not that there have been many ‘invalid’ fictional relationships, but the way Denise put so many thoughts before opening up to Taylor, the way she always put Kyle before her, the way she almost didn’t forgive Taylor for breaking Kyle’s heart, how she knew when to speak out– all of those things were what normal people would do in normal situations. Normal is pretty underrated, yanno? There have been so many unusual choices I’ve seen characters make that anything realistic and normal feels relatively weird and strange. I mean, I’m not explaining this properly, but that’s just how I felt. And my heart goes out to Taylor: living with all that guilt since childhood, with so much grief and trauma hidden away in his heart, it was very saddening to see how he never let himself truly be happy because of his past issues. I didn’t like that Mitch had to die to make Taylor realise how much he was holding back, but it had to be done, I understand that (reminds me of Jack’s death in Titanic). It was hard witnessing just how drastically Melissa’s life had to change, especially due to the fact that Mitch was going to retire in a couple of months. Deaths like these always take me by surprise, even though it’s a good indication of it when someone had planned far too ahead into their future or is excited about guaranteed happiness in their near future. But enough emo stuff for now.
Like most books by Nicholas Sparks, this book also had those calm and peaceful vibes that will force you to just relax and enjoy the story. Once I got into it, it was like a breeze. Sure, there were ups and downs, the conflicts, the good parts, and all that jazz; but never did the pace seem hurried. Well, technically the pace is decent, but it never urged me to quicken my speed of reading. That was the best part: there was no intrinsic need to devour the book in one sitting. No ‘I need to finish this book tonight or I’ll actually die’ feelings. And that’s not exactly a bad thing. I mean sure, some wouldn’t want that from a book, but after reading a shit-tonne of fantasy series that made me feel breathless by the speed I was going through them, this book was a very welcome respite from that, what I needed at the time. I took my sweet little time, reading only a couple chapters at a time. These past few days of reading were some of the lightest so far, if that makes sense. I wasn’t strung up so tight that I could shatter into smithereens at the faintest of touches, due to all the suspense and mystery and anxiety.
This is the type of book I would like to read while reclining on a chair in the patio facing the beach on a cool afternoon, sipping jus de fruit as a deliciously cool breeze kissed the back of your neck. That was oddly specific, but I felt that vibe. You’ll feel this sense of calm after finishing it, and then you can have a quiet dinner while soft music plays in the background or just get started on another book as soon you’ve had enough time to process this one– whatever floats your boat. Lastly but not the least, I’ll say I do recommend this book for the times when you want some light reading; something lazy and relaxing without feeling a sense of urgency, but definitely not if you’re craving some adrenaline, which I totally am!
Find an edited version on The Ruskin Journal!
Image Courtesy: Soyeenka Mishra
Location: Bhubaneswar, India