Stereotypically speaking, being a teenager can be rough. Hormones go crazy, emotions run wild, and everything can feel like the end of the world. Mix that in with a divorce, not speaking to a parent for a number of years, and a once-loved hobby turning into the most-hated task, then you have yourself a young adult ready to fight and rebel. This is exactly what you get at the beginning of this story, but behind the hard and rebellious mask is someone a little bit more complicated.
Nicholas Sparks is a loved author for a reason. Although the description above makes it sound like some stereotypical young adult story, it’s a very well-crafted book with a roller-coaster of emotions from beginning to end. We enter into the life of Ronnie, who is ‘forced’ to stay with her father over the summer break. Obviously, this is the worst thing since, like, ever. As we strap ourselves in, we realise just how complicated Ronnie is, and that we really can’t judge a book by its cover.
As mentioned before, Ronnie is rebellious. She has an attitude and will stand her ground, which is very evident from the beginning of this book. She’s been hurt, so this is how she copes with it. It’s understandable. I’m sure we can think of our teenage years and how we felt or reacted to being hurt, embarrassed or forced to do things we don’t want to do. Usually, it’s met quite dramatically. The world feels like its ending and there couldn’t possibly be anything worse than this. Ah, yes, those years where we felt such passion!
In the midst of her unhappiness about spending the summer with her father and away from her friends, Ronnie meets a group of people who she think she relates to. One of the guys becomes a bit too interested in her, and his girlfriend—Ronnie’s first ‘friend’ here—suddenly turns on her, making the summer holiday seem even worse than before.
But then there’s Will. Imagine a perfect beach boy with physique, golden hair and a bronze sun tan. This beautiful human being who makes the jaws of all the stereotypical, beach blonde babes’ drop. And, for some comic relief, he provides the best first impression for our Ronnie—a spilt sticky soft drink all over her. Cue the romantic music!
In all seriousness, this ‘perfect’ human being also hides a complicated back story. This story is all about the complications, and that’s what makes it so great to read. It’s refreshing, even if at times it can feel a little bit clichéd. The perfect person actually isn’t perfect, and the hard-shelled, rebellious girl is actually quite the soft-hearted person.
What is beautifully done in this book is the use of an omniscient narrator. By allowing the reader the opportunity to see through the eyes of a different character each chapter, it opens up a world of opportunities and gives us an insight to each main character. But, more importantly, it gives us more information about each character’s lives that another character doesn’t know about. I don’t know about you but knowing something a character doesn’t know about someone makes it all the more intriguing because I’ll soon be wanting to scream at them. Trust me, it happens a lot in this book.
It also increases the emotional turbulence. In one moment, our stomach is full of knots because we’re worried how one of the characters will react, then we’re filled with love and warmth as good things start to happen, and then not long after that we’re a ball of tears because Sparks decided it would be a great opportunity to rip our hearts out. Don’t you love it when authors do that?
It really emphasises the whole point that people really are complicated. A person who seems to have the whole world at their feet could have faced emotional trauma, but all people see is someone who succeeds rather than the pain they carry. Someone who may wear lots of black and seem like a rebellious goth might have the loveliest heart and the most joyful personality. Again, we’re reminded not to judge a book by its cover and that love can spark in the most unusual places.
Ultimately, I really enjoyed this story. Spark’s style is hugely effective in getting his points across, and by the end of the book we are thinking about what we hold important in our lives. I know by the end of it, I was really contemplating my priorities!
If you’re a Nicholas Sparks, young adult, or romance fan, you’ll probably like this story. Yes, it can get a little bit clichéd and gooey, but who doesn’t like a little bit of that from time-to-time? Why not give it a go?
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!
That’s it from me. Remember to ignite the story and I’ll see you again soon!
Charlotte is a reading and writing lover who has completed a creative writing intensive course at the University of Oxford and is a current university student studying a double degree in journalism and creative writing. If you are curious to learn more, check out the 'About' page.