A Walk to Remember, by Nicholas Sparks

As these images were going through my head, my breathing suddenly went still. I looked at Jamie, then up to the ceiling and around the room, doing my best to keep my composure, then back to Jamie again. She smiled at me and I smiled at her and all I could do was wonder how I’d ever fallen in love with a girl like Jamie Sullivan.

The story is as simple as it gets: Boy (Landon) meets girl (Jamie), falls in love with her (and she with him) but they’re star-crossed lovers.

I like this book and I don’t like it. I really like that it feels plausible and honest:

She looked away. “Yes,” she finally said, “I’m frightened all the time.” “Then why don’t you act like it?” “I do. I just do it in private.” “Because you don’t trust me?” “No,” she said, “because I know you’re frightened, too.”

I liked how Landon basically fell in love unwillingly and reluctantly but will not and cannot stop once he’s embarked on the journey. I also greatly like Spark’s beautiful and elegant writing:

The ocean turned golden silver as the shifting colors reflected off it, waters rippling and sparkling with the changing light, the vision glorious, almost like the beginning of time.

And, yes, I’ve laughed with Landon and Jamie and I’ve cried about them. To the best of my knowledge I’ve never seen a film by this name or with this exact story but that’s part of it: The story – while moving and not without merit – is far from new or original. It’s executed well enough to get away with that in my book (sic!) but your mileage might vary.

I really like the depth of the feelings portrayed and I liked how I rooted for every single character in this book – even if some (Eric!) were unbelievably “good”.

Sometimes things were almost too sweet and heavy to swallow but for the most part, things were realistic enough to accept for me.

My second – and by far biggest – gripe is fairly personal: I can’t stand all this religious stuff. I’m an atheist. I’m done with what was once “my” church and I’m done with beliefs and I certainly don’t need those in my books. I’m not even sure why all that stuff had to be in this book because the book could have worked completely without it.

Maybe Sparks felt it necessary to describe a young man’s way to redemption – I don’t know. I can’t buy into it and in the end, the author can’t simply let go and let his work speak for itself; no, he obviously feels the need to preach to us simple sinners and that’s what soured the book somewhat for me.

Nevertheless, a book that makes me cry isn’t totally beyond… redemption. I can’t help it and do like this book more than I don’t. That’s what the four stars try to say.

Still, if you’re like me and want to read something similarly moving but more thought-provoking and potentially controversial, you might want to read “The Universe Versus Alex Woods” by Gavin Extence.

If you pretty much only want the emotions and quite a bit less substantial though, go and read “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes.

Or read this one – it’s a quick and moving read after all. You’ll just have to either buy into religion or ignore that stuff. It will take away from the experience, though.

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