I may or may not have forgotten to schedule this post before I went on holiday and I’ve already read another book in that time...
*Warning – may contain spoilers*
The Best of Me tells the story of childhood sweethearts Dawson Cole and Amanda Collier. The two couldn’t be more different, Dawson is from a poor family, well known in the area crime, violence and other offences; Amanda is the typical all-American beauty, brought up by elite parents who have high expectations of her. When parental differences force them apart, never do they believe that they’ll be brought back together one day.
When Dawson (who was released from prison killing someone in a car accident) nearly dies on the oil rig in which he works, he believes someone saved his life and that someone will forever watch over him. Amanda gets the same supernatural feeling, as though this person is keeping an eye over both of them and when this happens, they are haunted by their memories and feelings for each other. Dawson has always been a loner, growing up he had no one but Amanda and moving forward, he has no family. Things couldn’t be different for Amanda, who is now married with three children – she also lost her youngest to brain cancer as a toddler.
Fate brings the couple together when they learn of the death to their friend Tuck, an elderly man who lived in the same town. Neither were aware that the other kept in contact with Tuck and so meeting was a total surprise. When they are together, their desires return and Dawson hopes he can rekindle what they once had. Unfortunately, Dawson’s abusive cousins hear of his return to Oriental and want revenge. They manage to track him down but it isn’t until Dawson steps in to save someone’s life – the son of the man he killed in that car crash – that they seek revenge. Violence is one of the main themes of the novel.
Alcoholism is another theme, with Amanda’s husband using alcohol as an escape mechanism. He drinks to cope with the family’s loss and because his marriage is at a low point. Frank’s drinking drives Amanda away but she never summons up the strength to leave, largely because of the children involved and so, her and Dawson will never be what they once were.
However, when Frank and son Jared are involved in a car accident, Amanda and Dawson are reunited in a way they never thought possible. Frank comes away with minor wounds, while Dawson remains in hospital with fatal injuries – he has to have heart surgery and the doctors take a while to find an organ donor. They do eventually find one and from that moment on, Amanda knows Dawson will always be a part of her, the best of her.
The Best of Me was a really heartbreaking story, which started well and promised so much. I don’t think it delivered and I think (like other review I’ve seen), I expected the couple to be together at the end. The ending for me was quite abrupt and underwhelming, giving the build up in tension throughout. While it was a thrilling read which had me gripped, I don’t think this is Sparks at his best. I do want to see the film adaptation to see how it compares or differs though. Maybe once I’ve watched that, I’ll read the book again.