Monday, July 9, 2012

Book Review: A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks

To try and do something about the fifteen thousand times I hear "Mammy, I'm boreddddddddddddd" on an  average wet day, I rejoined the library and joined the 7 year old up too. Frankly I don't know why I stopped going at all, I just think I forgot about it to be honest. Our local county library only costs 2.50 per year for adults, and it was free for the little man. He was delighted - he came home on Friday afternoon the proud carer of 3 Dr. Seuss books he hadn't read, and some other disgusting looking one about giants and snot. I picked 4 this week - the first of which I read today, it's 'A Bend in the Road' by Nicholas Sparks.

[Source: www.nicholassparks.com]

A Bend in the Road is Nicholas' fifth novel, following on from well-loved novels such as The Notebook,  A Walk to Remember and Message in a Bottle. It was published in 2001. Here's the cover stuff:

Miles Ryan's life seemed to end the day his wife was killed in a hit-and-run accident two years ago. Missy had been his first love, and Miles fervently believes she will be his last. As a deputy sheriff in the North Carolina town of New Bern, he not only grieves for Missy, but longs to bring the unknown driver to justice.

Then Miles meets Sarah Andrew. The second-grade teacher of his son, Jonah, Sarah had left Baltimore after a difficult divorce to start over in the gentler surroundings of New Bern. Perhaps it is her own emotional wounds that make her sensitive to the hurt she sees first in Jonah's eyes, and then in his father's. Tentatively, Sarah and Miles reach out to each other. Soon they are both laughing for the first time in years... and falling in love.

Neither will be able to guess how closely linked they are to a shocking secret - one that will force them to question everything they ever believed in... and make a heartbreaking choice that will change their lives forever.

Although I've seen all of the movies based on Nicholas Sparks' books, I've never read any of them. I really liked this one - I loved both main characters. Miles is beautifully written as the grieving widower, the man who is trying his best not to let his obsession over finding out who killed his wife interfere with his daily life. His devotion to his son Jonah is apparent in every exchange between the two. Sarah, too, is dealing with a huge emotional burden - her divorce, and in particular the reasons for the divorce. Hearing that her ex-husband is due to be remarried also hits her in a way she wasn't expecting. Miles is different from any other man she has known, but she is uncertain how he will feel when she reveals some of her past. They're both initially nervous around each other, and it's endearing rather than annoying.

Sarah is Jonah's teacher, and agrees to give him the extra help he needs with his schoolwork after falling behind when his mother died. Miles and Sarah grow closer, until we can see them gradually opening up to each other and falling in love. It's a tender romance, one that isn't rushed, and it culminates in both characters being able to relax and enjoy the company of a kindred spirit.

As expected, something comes along to test their feelings. Miles' obsession with finding out who killed his wife reaches a dangerous level, and when Sarah discovers something disturbing, it puts her in an unenviable position. Will they be able to get through this? And will they still be together at the end of it?

I read this book in one sitting - all 445 pages of it. I couldn't put it down. The story of Miles and Sarah is told to us in the book by an unnamed man - one who is pivotal to the story. I did have my suspicions about who the mysterious male narrator was, but it didn't destroy the story for me when we discovered who it was. There is an underlying theme in the book about forgiveness, but I think it's mainly about how to move on with life and cope with past pain without letting it consume you.

Sparks managed to give both the killer and the victim's wife very similar (if not the same) issues, and I was surprised to find myself rooting for the killer at the end (I use the term 'killer' loosely, by the way). The end is a little bit twee, but all in all I really liked it and I'll be picking up a few more of Nicholas' novels the next time I'm in the library.

I despise the term chick-lit, but I'd describe this as 'chick with a kick'. It's a little meatier than some of the romance novels aimed at women (meaty as in lots to sink your teeth into, not as in that book with the word grey in the title of which we shall not speak) and all the story arcs are interesting and well-written. 

Consider me a new fan.

S xx

6 comments:

  1. Great review! I love Nicholas Sparks books! but I am the same as you, have seen all the movies and have two books so far... but they are quite easy to read! will defo check this one out! x Marina

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  2. It's definitely worth a read, I really liked it x

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  3. When I started reading his books a few years ago, I also couldn't put them down. They are that god. And now, I still can't put them down when they come out (most of the times I'm one of the first people to buy his new books when they come out). And libraries today are a goldmine, there are lots of books, both modern and classical, that can inspire and make you start writing your own thoughts. That's how I started writing, and Nicholas Sparks' is to blame.

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  4. Thanks for such a great comment, Jeff. Libraries are fantastic, a valuable asset for both readers and writers. I could happily spend the day in the library, I cannot understand people who don't read books! I can see how Nicholas would be an inspiration for a writer, and I look forward to reading more of his books.

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  5. Very true, MissGreen. In fact, I'm actually writing some Nicholas Sparks fan fiction. If you want me to let you know when it's done, just let me know!

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