The Best of Me by Nicholas SparksIn the fall of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply, irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.
Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental for a funeral. Neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives. Forced to confront painful memories, the two former lovers soon realize that everything they thought they knew-about themselves and the dreams they held dear-was not as it seemed. And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead: Can love truly rewrite the past? (Goodreads)
This was the monthly pick for my book club, as I don't usually read Nicholas Sparks. His books are a little too sappy-sweet for my tastes, but I can understand why he's so popular. While I wouldn't have picked this one up on my own, I did enjoy it (until the ending).
We meet Dawson first, who lives a solitary life working on an oil rig. Reunited with Amanda in their hometown for the funeral of an old friend, they find that their feelings for each other haven't really changed.
Really enjoyed how the story didn't focus just on Dawson and Amanda, but also gave us glimpses into the lives of the people around them: Tuck, cousins Ted and Abee, and Amanda's family. While the story flipped back and forth between multiple narrators, it was never hard to follow or confusing. I really enjoyed Dawson's crazy cousins, as I don't come across crazy, mean, and violent narrators very often.
Have to admit that the story didn't unfold the way I expected, but it was well paced and had great characters! Sparks had several short, fast, intense chapters leading up to the big surprise, which was a fun ride! Didn't care for the ending as it was a little too....schmaltzy? It certainly took me by surprise and wasn't what I was expecting at all, but I have to admit that I was disappointed.
Even with the ending, which I'm sure that some fans will love, it was still a good read. It was a quick read and would make a good book to take to the beach, as it doesn't require your full attention. Not that there's anything wrong with that....