I may be a bit behind others when it comes to Nicholas Sparks' books, but that's okay. My step-daughter has been bring me tons of hard cover books lately, since someone she works for closed his eBay book store. I've been more of a Kindle reader as of late, but there's something about sitting and reading a book, snuggled up in a blanket that I still cherish.
With my reviews, I tend not to re-hash the story too much. Honestly, there is always a synopsis or snippet available AND typically there are other reviewers out there that spend a great deal of time giving a over-view of the story. Heck, that's where I usually look to see if it's a book that I will like, with characters I could love. My review is more of what the book did for me, what the story said to me.
I didn't know who Nicholas Sparks really was. I just knew he was behind the story of one of my favorite movies, "A Walk to Remember" which still makes me cry every time I watch it. Recently, "Safe Haven" was released in the theaters, but I still didn't know who this guy was. But, the hardcover book was sitting there, right where the corner of my eye could see it. So, I decided to pick it up and check it out.
Right from the beginning, I was intrigued. I had no idea there was so much interest in messages in bottles. That, scientists used them for figuring out currents and such. Being a native of the Jersey Shore, I've picked up my fair share of treasures along the shore. But, never anything that made a huge impact in my life.
As I read the beginning chapter, I wondered, "what if"? What would I do if I had found a bottle on the beach? Yep, I too would look for a place to throw it out and probably blame tourists or teens for littering the shore. And, from there, feeling like I was Theresa...the story sucked me in.
I picked up the book right before bed, grabbing a slip of paper to use as a bookmark. I figured it was late, 3 AM and I'd just read enough to tire my eyes. By 5 AM my eyes barely blinked. I had read over one hundred pages already. I felt the pain of her divorce (been there), the anxiety of being a single boy (was there too for awhile), the craziness of living a fast-paced life and the loneliness that exists. The more she learned, the more I was hooked. My heart burned for the man, Garrett.
I wanted her to find him...of course, it's 2013 as I read it, and I had forgotten that many resources were different in the 90's. Internet was there, but not like today. People still used phone books and maps. People relied on land-line phones and answering machines. But, she and Deanna were reporters at heart, and I know that no matter what decade, reporters knew how to do their research. I felt myself sitting in the newsroom or office, with them, wanting to give ideas and suggestions as to how to find him.
Once Theresa found him...she did what I (mentally) told her. I told her to watch him, observe his life. Don't reveal anything just yet. That's what she did. And from there, it was a beautiful romance. Long-distance was their biggest issue. He was wonderful with her son, which IS a huge challenge for single parents. They had a wonderful time together and even though I live in a different place, I could imagine the story taking place here at the Jersey Shore. It was going so well.
By 7 AM (yes, I stayed up all night), my heart was breaking. His love for his dead wife kept surfacing. Garrett compared her and Theresa. And, Theresa sometimes compared Garrett to her ex-husband. They both knew they were falling and it was a tough journey for them both. But, with each other, they seemed to make it work. They seemed to both be healing, albeit slowly.
Then came the ultimatum. The heart-breaking moment when one had to walk away from the other. I still held out for a happily ever after. I so badly wanted them to be together. He went after her, just wanting one more chance, willing to sacrifice on her behalf. But, Theresa kept going.
I won't give away the ending, for those who haven't read it yet. But, it is bittersweet, much like the ending to "A Walk to Remember" and probably other books by Mr. Sparks. All that I know is that by 8 AM as I read the last few pages, tears flooded my face, my nose running like mad. I could barely make out the words I knew were coming. And, her message to Garrett really undid me completely.
A beautiful romance that will wrench at your heart. A message in a bottle brought them together. A message in this book will hopefully give some people hope, too. It's okay to love AND it's okay to let go.