The Best of Me is a very different read to Safe Haven; something tells me that's true of all of Nicholas's novels. Despite all having a central theme of love, all of his book plots seem to be wildly different. It's impressive, actually, because most authors stick to a general formula for their books, but Nicholas doesn't and his plots range far and wide. The synopsis for The Best of Me doesn't give much away, as you can see above but it does rather sum the book up nicely as both Dawson and Amanda find themselves back in Oriental, their home town, after Tuck, a man they both knew well dies. Dawson and Amanda had been teenage sweethearts, torn apart because their lives were so far apart from each other and when they see each other again, it begs the question of just how deep their love really ran for each other way back when...
The Best of Me is only 292 pages long, which surprised me. That's not particularly long, and I was surprised to see how small it was when I got it. However, there's a lot packed into the novel and it's a really good read. I didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoyed Safe Haven, but it was a solid 4 star read for me. I'm a total sucker for love that's star-crossed, for love that attracts opposition, so I was sucked in by Dawson and Amanda's love and by the way they didn't let their contrasting backgrounds come between them during that summer they spent together. I liked how the intervening years didn't change their feelings for each other, too, once they both came back to Oriental. I thought the entire novel was just so magical as Dawson and Amanda are reunited and they reconnect over the death of their friend.
I thought the interconnecting stories were also interesting - Dawson's cousins, Abee and Ted who were unhappy their cousin was back at Oriental, wanting to get back at him; Amanda's family, including her alcoholic husband Frank; the Bonner family, who are connected to Dawson; and the life story of the dead man, Tuck and his wife Clara. I found the way all the stories connected and were told were excellent and it really heightened my reading of the novel. I knew what was happening/going to happen with certain characters and it was interesting to watch it all play out while the characters were waiting to do what they were going to do. It was a very interesting novel, and I was particularly fascinated by Tuck's story. I loved how he had a hand in the novel despite the fact he died before we got to really know him.
The ending was a massive shock for me. As the book neared its end, I pretty much knew I wasn't going to get an ending that was going to please me. Despite the fact I knew how it was going to end pretty much as soon as I got to about 20 pages out, I truly wanted to stop reading so I didn't have to read it. It was a very bittersweet read and Nicholas Sparks knows how to keep you turning the pages - even when you don't really want to. The Best of Me was a very readable read, and one I liked reading. I liked the whole love on from the opposite side of the tracks, the tragedy of it all, and I couldn't help wondering just how different Dawson and Amanda's lives would have been had they stayed together as teenagers. (It certainly would have been a very different book...) I'd definitely recommend the book, I enjoyed reading it and I can definitely see this one becoming a movie, too. I can't wait to go back and read Sparks' backlog of books he's definitely an author I enjoy reading and The Best of Me was hugely enjoyable.