Independent Reading Project

Nicholas Sparks has written, yet, another sensation. The Best of Me is, like many of other of Sparks’ books, a #1 New York Times bestseller. This story is currently in the works of coming to the big screen. The Best of Me will be produced by Nicholas Sparks Productions and Denise DiNovi, who is not new to bringing Sparks’ books to life. She also helped produced the very famous A Walk to Remember and The Lucky One. 

The Best of Me tells the story of two high school kids from two separate worlds who fall deeply in love. Amanda Collier, one of the main characters, is the beautiful, perfect, rich girl in the town of Oriental who is expected by everyone, especially her parents, to go to the best college, marry the best guy, and live the perfect life, but that is not what she has in mind for herself at all. She does, though expect of herself to live a perfect life and that is because she sees the rest of her life being with only one person, Dawson, another main character. Dawson Cole has unfortunately taken on the bad reputation from his family members, but not because he was like them, just simply because he was born into them. “The Coles” were the trash of the town. They’re liars, thieves, drunks, fighters, and just downright trouble-makers. Not only did Amanda’s family forbid their love, but as did the town. There were always going to be whispers about the two of them, but it didn’t matter as long as they had each other. 

It all started when they became lab partners, and from then on they were inseparable. Dawson’s family did not approve of the fact that he “thought he was better than them”, so they beat on him. Finally, Dawson had enough and moved out. He found a truck to crash for the night, unknowing that it was going to be the start of a true home and friendship. Tuck, another main character, recently lost his wife, destroying him and leaving him to be alone as a depressed drunk. Having Dawson around gave him a sense of security and friendship. He let Dawson live in his garage and also gave him a job, but that was pointless considering since once Dawson’s dad and cousins found out about the money they once again beat on him until he gave it up every month. Tuck knew about this and became more of a father figure to Dawson making sure he could always get by even without the paycheck. Tuck, though, was the only other person besides Amanda and Dawson who really witnessed, understood, and could describe the type of love they had. He knew it was that “once in a lifetime kind of love”. Dawson and Amanda faced their final obstacle  when Amanda’s parents gave her an awful alternative, Dawson or college. They did this knowing how important college was to her, and that she couldn’t afford it on her own considering she has always just been handed everything. Dawson still meant more to her than anything and she quickly gave up her dream of college and decided to move in with Dawson. Dawson couldn’t take her dream away from her, though and ended it between them. 

It is now many years later and Amanda is no longer that love struck 18 year old girl, but a married mother of 4, well technically now only 3 due to the fact that her daughter, Bea was diagnosed with a brain tumor as a baby and passed away.  Her father had also passed away. The deaths of her loved ones and her awful relationship with her now alcoholic husband, she periodically went back to Oriental to visit Tuck. Dawson, out of the army and quite the same man, is still living alone. He has yet to date anyone since Amanda. The two of them, unknowingly, are being set up to meet again. They are both coming back to Oriental because of the death of Tuck, but before he went he made sure they would get their second chance because he knew they had a love like him and his wife. Amanda and Dawson soon catch up and before they know it they once again expressing to each other how in love they are, have always been, and always will be. But Amanda can’t turn away from her other life that easily, and they both think maybe they’ll have a place together in the world someday, but not now. On the way home Amanda is informed her son and husband were in a deadly accident, leaving her son in immediate need of heart transplant. Dawson, on the way home, did the only thing that would truly make up for one of the biggest regrets he has always had. While going past the bar he realizes his cousins are beating to death the son of the man he accidentally killed in a car accident that wasn’t his fault. By saving this man’s son he began to finally forgive himself, but then he was shot. Dawson was killed instantly and Amanda was crushed by the news, but then Dawson truly gave Amanda the best of him. Dawson’s heart was used to save Amanda’s dying son. Amanda’s kids were all healthy and safe, her relationship with her husband became stronger, and she was happy, but she will always be in love with Dawson Cole. 

The conflict of this story is mainly about Dawson and Amanda’s relationship and the rest of the world. It seems all the odds are against them. They overcame quite a few obstacles, but time seemed to do them the worst. Time gave them the opportunity to move on and the space from one another to grow doubtful of their love being just a teenage fling or the real deal. In time, yes they still loved each other, but they are both too good of people to just hurt the others they have built their separate lives with just so they can be happy. 

My favorite character from the book is Tuck. Tuck did everything he could to be a good father figure, friend, and advisor for Dawson and Amanda. He believed in their love and believed they both deserved, more than anything, to be happy. He even made sure before he died that the one thing that would be taken care of are the two of them. 

Being so young, I have yet to really relate to this book. Obviously every teenage girl fantasizes to be in a teenage love like Dawson and Amanda that lasts and can overcome anything, but unfortunately, like many others, I have yet to experience that. 

Like every other Nicholas Sparks book, I love it. I think a strength of this book is just the overall plot. Teenage love that lasts a lifetime really captures people because that is kind of the ideal theory. Another strength is the ending of the book, which didn’t make me happy, but did make it realistic in a satisfying way by showing that nothing can ever be perfect and you can’t always have a happy ending. I really don’t think there were any weaknesses of this book, nor do I think I would change anything. I love this book exactly the way it is. 

I would definitely recommend this book to others because it really portrays this idea of destiny intertwined into an amazing love story. The idea of it all is very interesting. The way destiny brings these two people together, keeps them together, brings them back together, and then help them save each other really puts things into a different perspective and is unlike any other book. 

Nicholas Sparks always has books fraught with amazing and inspirational little quotes. The Best of Me is no exception of that. “Don't take my advice. Or anyone's advice. Trust yourself. For good or for bad, happy or unhappy, it's your life, and what you do with it has always been entirely up to you.” I think this is a great quote because it really speaks to people that the choices in your life, no matter how pressured you are, are still entirely yours. You and only you should be in control of your life. “Change isn't always for the best.” I like this quote because I really relate to it. People are always pushing this idea that change is good, but this just agrees with me, sometimes it isn’t. “I gave you the best of me, he'd told her once, and with every beat of her son's heart, she knew he'd exactly done that.”  I really enjoy this quote just because I think if you could describe this book in a few words than this quote did more than a good job at that. “Because you aren't just someone I loved back then. You were my best friend, my best self, and I can't imagine giving that up again." He hesitated searching for the right words. "You might not understand, but I gave you the best of me, and after you left, nothing was ever the same.” I picked this quote just because it is probably one of the best love quotes I have ever heard. 

Nicholas Sparks, one of the most deft authors alive, made his outbreak after the release of The Notebook, which is still considered to be one of the best love stories ever told and is included in many people’s lists when asked what either is their favorite book or their favorite movie. Many of Sparks’ books are inspired by his family members, as are the characters names in his books. Many of Sparks’ books have been #1 New York Times bestsellers, as they have also always made a big hit when released to theaters after being brought to life. Nicholas Sparks’ wife is always considered to be the luckiest life in the world, considering her husband is considered to be the most romantic husband in the world. Some unknown facts about Sparks is that he ran a full scholarship at the University of Notre Dame for track, wasn’t recognized as an adept author until his third book, The Notebook of course, and he also has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Creative description: The word "destiny" is written across to best describe their story. They were destined for each other. The words written inside describe ways they are, or, how they are destined, and things, places, or ideas that make them destined. The words are written in the order they happened as a timeline. The hearts with their names represent them and their love, and if you look closely the word "destiny" is written inside tracks in which separates the hearts to show how they were from "opposite sides of the tracks", and had a forbidden love, but the words in the tracks are what kept pulling them back together. The truck represents where it all began.