Book Review: The Notebook
by Nicholas Sparks
From the back of the book: At thirty-one, Noah Calhoun, back in coastal North Carolina after World War II, is haunted by images of the girl he lost more than a decade earlier. At twenty-nine, socialite Allie Nelson is about to marry a wealthy lawyer, but she cannot stop thinking about the boy who long ago stole her heart. Thus begins the story of a love so enduring and deep it can turn tragedy into triumph, and may even have the power to create a miracle...
Review: So, at nineteen years old I am probably committing some sort of 21st century social crime for never having seen the movie version of this book. But I thought that if the movie was so good, the book must be amazing, so I finally got around to reading it.
All in all, it is a beautiful, touching love story. It was Sparks's first novel and slightly based off the love story of his wife's grandparents. I didn't learn this until after finishing the book, but I think knowing this was based on a true story would have definitely changed how I read and approached the story.
Noah and Allie are from two different worlds but when they are teenagers they have this whirlwind summer romance. Neither forgets about the other, but Allie follows the safe and expected path and gets engaged to a big-time lawyer. Over ten years later, right before Allie's wedding, the two reconnect and they relive that one fateful summer. Allie must choose between these two men, torn by her sense of duty to the people she loves and the sense of duty to her own desires in life.
I see how this became a bestselling novel--it is a true love story. We see Allie and Noah experience a love and devotion we can only hope to have some day. At times the exchanges between the two are so raw and high on emotion and depth--it's hard to get through this book without welling up in tears at least a couple times.
I love sad, heart-wrenching tales. I always thought that if a book can get me to cry, then it must be good. The Notebook, however, seems to be an exception to this rule. It was high on romance...and basically just that. The conflict is blatant, but honestly I was a bit frustrated it was never really heightened. In the end, everything works out perfectly, and there really isn't a major fight or struggle. I thought it was too simple. And really, I sometimes love simple...but not in this case.
So I recommend reading The Notebook if you want a quick read and a good love story. Don't expect any twists or turns, and don't expect any big antagonists or threats.
Final Rating: 2/5. I really wish I hadn't bothered reading The Notebook. I was thinking of reading a few other Nicholas Sparks books that sounded good from their back-cover summaries, but now I'm not so sure.
Nicholas Sparks's site
The Notebook on goodreads
If you are looking for a good romance, (that will so make you cry) I suggest The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and One Day by David Nicholls.