I read the Notebook eons ago in high school and basically haven’t read any of his books since. I remember it being an emotional, and unique read – by far the best of his books that I had read. I haven’t read any of his books published since then – but after reading The Best of Me I definitely won’t be reading any more. It was by-the-numbers emotional pandering that was predictable and just plain bad.
THE BEST OF ME is the heart-rending story of two small-town former high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks. Now middle-aged, they’ve taken wildly divergent paths, but neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever altered their world. When they are both called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter, they will be forced to confront the choices each has made, and ask whether love can truly rewrite the past.
For such a short book (under 300 pages) this book sure did drag. It’s telling the story of Amanda and Dawson, whose tale begins in their teens and resumes in their middle age. Between both timelines of their relationship, there was absolutely no interesting plot to be found. They both gave up on each other in the beginning and the rest of the book really just felt like they were being forced together. Their chemistry was forced and painful to read about – they made no sense and reading an entire book about their relationship was painful. Outside of their relationship, the plot around Dawson’s crazy and violent family was boring and predictable. The ‘tearjerker’ ending was easy to see a mile away and was very dissatisfying. The whole book came off as emotional pandering and exceptionally cheap – it was trying to evoke emotions it had not earned.
Dawson was a quiet man, without a lot of personality or common sense. I understand he was supposed to be the strong, silent, and mysterious type, but he didn’t deliver on any of that. Plus, his weird seeing a ghost plotline was just a little too out there for me, in this type of book. It was too over-the-top and was a desperate stab at making this book be actually interesting. Amanda was a bit of an airhead – she gave up on Dawson incredibly fast and never seemed to make her mind up about him during their reunion. The commonality between these characters is the lack of apparent motivation behind any of their actions. Their chemistry was nonexistant which was very disappointing for this type of book.
I’m not sure if I’m remembering Nicholas Spark’s books with rose coloured glasses or if his books earlier books were much better than this one, but I’m definitely not picking up another one of his books. This was blatant emotional pandering and really lacked any substance past that. If you’re looking for an emotional read, try out The Fault in Our Stars by John Green or How to Walk Away by Katherine Center. 1/5.