Jul 1, 2010

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Ronnie's whole life blew up. Fortunately it wasn't a literal explosion, but her parents' divorce, and her father's subsequent move from NYC to Wrightsville Beach, NC, have not been easy to handle. Always a fan of her father, Ronnie now finds herself at odds with him and his way of life in the smaller town when she and her younger brother Jonah are sent to spend the summer with their father.

Still bitter and angry about everything, as teen's are apt to be, Ronnie ditches her brother and any attempts at peace-making by her father for the teen scene. While out that night she meets Will and Blaze out at a carnival. Desperate for a diversion she mingles between them both despite the obvious polarity between good-boy Will & misunderstood Blaze. She is instantly attracted to Will by his charm and winning smile, but the brooding Blaze seems like the most likely friend for a club-hopping, New Yorker like Ronnie. The girls grow attached quickly and Ronnie sees Will from time to time when he comes to care for a sea turtle nest near her home.

As the summer progresses, Ronnie begins to soften her steel-plated exterior. As she learns the truth about Blaze's relationship troubles, her father's secret, & acknowledges her feelings for Will, she starts to determine what is really important to her. A long summer of thinking and feeling allows her to take the necessary steps in order to follow her heart. Only it's too late for some things.

The Last Song has returned to Sparks's formulaic story. There is always a girl, there is always a boy, and no one seems to survive. The main reason I really enjoy reading his novels is the setting. As a native Tar Heel (born and raised in the Triad) I appreciate the local flare that Sparks adds to his stories. For me, it adds a certain depth and reality to a book when I can picture the exact location that is being described, and while that can be achieved with copious amounts of extra work when creating a location, it is so much more effective when you are simply describing a location already in existence.

Ronnie was definitely annoying at the beginning of the novel, but as a child of a nasty divorce, I can completely understand and compartmentalize her reaction and behavior. There is no structured outlet for that kind of frustration and I can't imagine having a parent move so far away in that kind of situation. I really liked watching her relationships with the other characters change over the course of the novel. I felt like she really grew as an individual and that those around her benefited from her actions. The alternating points of view also lent an interesting slant on how multiple people can view the same situation. Very telling indeed.

All in all, while it wasn't quite as good as The Lucky One, this was still an enjoyable read. Beaches, teen angst, love, and loss all in just 405 pages. Dig in!

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