I'm going to be totally honest here: I've never been a fan of Nicholas Sparks books. I think he spends way too much time on character development. By the time he gets to the action…er, the sappy stuff…I've already fallen asleep or completely lost interest. The movie versions of his books are awesome because time-sensitive producers understand that an hour-long buildup will have audiences bailing before the main love interest is even introduced. Except for Nights in Rodanthe. I'm sorry, but even Richard Gere couldn't revive that one.
After tossing The Notebook and giving up 15 pages into A Walk to Remember, I vowed to make it through at least one Nicholas Sparks book without running to Redbox for the movie version. I picked Dear John simply because Channing Tatum (who played the lead role in the movie adaptation) is delicious and at the very least, I'd be able to drool over the cover photo when Nicholas Sparks' descriptive prologue got old.
It worked. The droning on and on…and on…with the backstory did annoy me, but not quite as much as usual. I actually found myself intrigued by John's tenuous relationship with his father. By the time Nicholas Sparks got to describing the father's complete and incomprehensible obsession with coins, I was totally embroiled. Yeah, Nicholas Sparks finally broke through my cold, cold heart with a coin collection. Throughout the entire book, I was cheering not for the relationship between John and his new love Savannah, but for John and his distant father. It could be my own rebellious daddy issues rearing their immature little head, but I suspect that anyone could relate to this plot. It literally had me bawling myself to sleep for three or four nights in a row. In a good way.
Perhaps it's because Dear John was the first Nicholas Sparks book I read that didn't feature a difficult-to-relate-to teenage girl in it's pivotal role. Maybe it was my hell-bent determination to not let the first 20 pages of a book discourage me. Maybe it's because Channing Tatum is so darn sexy. Whatever the reason, Dear John earned it's place as one of the most genuine and heart-wrenching novels I've ever read. I highly recommend Dear John to anyone – whether they're a Nicholas Sparks fan or not.