Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review: The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Title: The Last Song
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publishers: Grand Central Publishing
Date of Publication: September 8th, 2009
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Format: Hardcover
Length: 390 pages
My Source: Ebook (epub)

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 alienated 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 about love in its myriad forms – first love, the love between parents and children – that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that deeply felt relationships can break our hearts… and heal them.

I began reading the book with an uncertainty whether I'll end up liking the book or not as I didn't like The Notebook as much as everyone else and I think its overrated. Frankly, I was pretty much convinced that I will not like the book because the synopsis gave me an impression that it was the same girl-meets-boy and fall-in-love kind of story and well, it is a book of that kind but still I liked the book, a lot.

Ronnie Miller is a very rebellious teenager, she does every possible thing to disobey her mother. After her parents' separation when her dad leaves New York, she just lets everything go: her grades, her piano playing skills (because it was her father who taught her playing piano and the man himself was a pianist) and many other things. Her mom ships Ronnie and her little brother, Jonah, to North Carolina for the summer to spend time with their dad. When they first arrive, Ronnie wants nothing to do with him, in her heart she hates Steve, her father and practically spends all the time out of home to avoid him. Then she meets Will, whom at first she doesn’t want to associate with, either. Then Ronnie starts seeing more of Will and he really helps her open up. And the inevitable happens, they fall in love. Let me not give you any wrong idea about it, it was that typical love story, but the story is not entirely about it. There are a few more edges of the story that makes it different and beautiful!

Ronnie was a pretty well-developed character. At first she’s this mean girl who is very inconsiderate of everyone. By the end she turns into a mature young lady who wants to please everyone. Once she discovers that it was her mother who was really responsible for the divorce, years of misunderstanding towards her dad washes away slowly. The way she treats her dad when he gets admitted to the hospital and refuses to return New York leaving her dad alone, shows a complete transformation of a teenage girl to a determined young woman.
I liked Will. He was this really easygoing guy who didn’t act anything like his snobby rich parents. The little incidents, the little things Ronnie and Will did together were beautiful. There wasn't anything extraordinary about it, but perhaps its the simplicity of the relationship that made it truly wonderful.

As for Steve's character, I haven't met someone as generous and understanding in my life, yet. He was less a parent, more a friend to Ronnie. Because he trusted her when he apparently had no reason to, Ronnie began trusting herself. Apart from Will, the person who played the biggest role to change Ronnie into somewhat a better person, was her dad. Jonah was really adorable for a ten year old.

Like I mentioned before, the plot wasn’t very creative. If you have read anything by Nicholas Sparks before, you would probably have noticed, too. But the book won't fail to touch your heart, I can assure you that. The writing is captivating too. So if you are a romance reader, go for it.

As a child, Nicholas Sparks lived in Minnesota, Los Angeles, and Grand Island, Nebraska, finally settling in Fair Oaks, California at the age of eight. His father was a professor, his mother a homemaker, then optometrist's assistant. He lived in Fair Oaks through high school, graduated valedictorian in 1984, and received a full track scholarship to the University of Notre Dame.

After breaking the Notre Dame school record as part of a relay team in 1985 as a freshman (a record which still stands), he was injured and spent the summer recovering. During that summer, he wrote his first novel, though it was never published. He majored in Business Finance and graduated with high honors in 1988.

He and his wife Catherine, who met on spring break in 1988, were married in July, 1989. While living in Sacramento, he wrote his second novel that same year, though again, it wasn't published. He worked a variety of jobs over the next three years, including real estate appraisal, waiting tables, selling dental products by phone, and started his own small manufacturing business which struggled from the beginning. In 1990, he collaborated on a book with Billy Mills, the Olympic Gold Medalist and it was published by Feather Publishing before later being picked up by Random House. (It was recently re-issued by Hay House Books.) Though it received scant publicity, sales topped 50,000 copies in the first year of release.

He began selling pharmaceuticals and moved from Sacramento, California to North Carolina in 1992. In 1994, at the age of 28, he wrote The Notebook over a period of six months. In October, 1995, rights to The Notebook were sold to Warner Books. It was published in October, 1996, and he followed that with Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember (1999), The Rescue (2000), A Bend in the Road (2001), and Nights in Rodanthe (2002), The Guardian (2003), The Wedding (2003), Three Weeks with my Brother (2004), True Believer (2005) and At First Sight (2005) all with Warner Books. All were domestic and international best sellers and were translated into more than 35 languages. The movie version of Message in a Bottle was released in 1999, A Walk to Remember was released in 2002, and The Notebook was released in 2004. The average domestic box office gross per film was $56 million -- with another $100 million in DVD sales -- making the novels by Nicholas Sparks one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood.

The film rights to Nights in Rodanthe, True Believer and At First Sight have been sold, and Nicholas Sparks has written the screenplay for The Guardian, though he has not offered it for sale at this point.

He now has five children: Miles, Ryan, Landon, Lexie, and Savannah. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and children.

His ancestry is German, Czech, English, and Irish, he's 5'10" and weighs 180 lbs. He is an avid athlete who runs daily, lifts weights regularly, and competes in Tae Kwon Do. He attends church regularly and reads approximately 125 books a year. He contributes to a variety of local and national charities, and is a major contributor to the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame, where he provides scholarships, internships, and a fellowship annually.