The Philadelphia Inquirer: 'The Best of Me': More of what makes Sparks successful

October 15th, 2011

The Philadelphia Inquirer
October 15, 2011
By John Timpane

Nicholas Sparks‘ latest novel, The Best of Me, has all the flashes of a Sparks book: small-town life; love and its regrets; wrenching plot twists; agonizing choices. Plus a ghost. Or is it a ghost?

“I don’t want to be the kind of writer who writes the same exact story without changing anything,” says Sparks, who reads from his work at the University of Pennsylvania Bookstore from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. “I’m always asking myself, ‘How can I make it new and interesting?’ “

Enough readers have found his stories new and interesting to give him a very successful career as a writer, with 16 novels and multiple New York Times best-sellers. Many fans know him best by the six popular movies (with three more in production) made from his books, including Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, and Nights in Rodanthe.

The Best of Me recounts the re-meeting of two teen lovers, Amanda and Dawson, years later at a high school reunion in a small Southern town. Broken up by sharp-eyed parents, and separated by class, the two take different routes in life. But Sparks doesn’t let this almost unbearably romantic premise run away with the book. Sure, the question will be “Is there such a thing as true love?” – but the answer will be anything but easy.