A Walk To Remember – by Nicholas Sparks (1999)

A Walk To Remember

The story is told by Landon Carter when he is 57 years old, recalling a time forty years earlier. It was the 1950s in the small town of Beaufort, North Carolina. Landon and his buddies would sneak out at night to get into mischief, and often pull pranks on folks around town. Although it was a very religious community, the local minister, Hegbert Sullivan, and his daughter Jamie were frequently subjects of their off-color jokes. Jamie dressed modestly, wore a plain brown sweater, always carried her Bible, and was unfailingly kind.

Landon found himself thrown together with Jamie, first in desperation as a date for the school dance, and later as a fellow actor in the church’s annual Christmas play. For the first time, he saw how beautiful Jamie was, both inside and out. They began doing things together, like visiting kids at the local orphanage, and raising money for them. Landon’s old friends ridiculed him for hanging around Jamie, but after a while that really didn’t matter. About the time Landon realized that he had fallen in love with Jamie, she told him that she was dying.

The things that kept this book from being a sappy, shallow love story are: 1 – it was based on the author’s own sister, who was dying as he wrote the story; and 2 – it portrayed a kind of love based on devotion to God and others. As Landon and Jamie looked outward and tried to meet the needs of people around them, they formed a close bond to each other. While the book was a tear-jerker, it also showed how anyone, no matter how young or old, can make the world a better place just by loving others.

The book was made into a movie in 2002. While the book was set in the 1950s, the producers of the movie changed it to the late 1990s. They felt young people would be more drawn to a current-day story instead of one from the mid-century. Whether you read the book or watch the movie, you are sure to be moved by this story of deep love.

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Three Weeks With My Brother – by Nicholas Sparks (2004)

three weeks with my brother

The older I get, the more I appreciate a well-written memoir. While author Nicholas Sparks can write great novels, this book, which tells the story of his family, is far superior to any fiction he has written. I do have to say that “A Walk To Remember” was wonderful, but it was fiction inspired by the loss of his sister.

But back to our featured book. In 2003, Nicholas Sparks was exhausted, averaging three hours of sleep a night, and on the verge of a collapse. At the urging of his wife and brother, he took a vacation. And what a vacation it was! Nicholas and his brother Micah went on a three-week guided tour of the world. The descriptions of the famous places they saw were amazing, and left me wanting to see a few of them myself. Wedged between vacation stories, Nicholas writes about his childhood, parents, and siblings, and the journey to adulthood and a family of his own.

This book is really about two journeys – one journey of three weeks with his brother, and the journey of his family over the years. The relationship Nicholas shares with his brother Micah is truly a remarkable one. Even though there were a lot of things that went wrong, their devotion to each other carried them through it all.