Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
This story takes the listener back to small Beaufort, NC, in the 1950s. Landon Carter, a Congressman's son, just likes to have fun. Quite by chance, he begins a friendship with Jamie Sullivan, the pious Baptist minister's daughter, who is sweet and totally dedicated to being a "good Christian" and a good daughter. In the years that follow their unlikely friendship, we learn how Landon comes into his own and is transformed through his relationship with Jamie. The novel is predictable, to be sure, but Sparks (The Notebook) handles the tale well. But his narration sounds much younger than that of a 57-year-old man supposedly telling the story of his youth. We are in the midst of Jamie's and Landon's life rather than having the feeling of listening to a wistful, older narrator looking back. But this is bittersweet and makes an enjoyable and engaging experience. A sure winner for the audiobook section of any public library.ÄNancy Paul, Brandon P.L., WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Sure to wring yet more tears from willing readers' eyes, the latest novel by the bestselling Sparks is a forced coming-of-age story concerning a pair of unlikely young lovers. In a corny flashback device that mimics The Notebook, 57-year-old Landon Carter spirits himself back to his fateful senior year in high school in Beaufort, N.C., when he was an archetypal troublemaking teenager of the 1950s, changed forever by an unexpected first love. Jamie Sullivan, the Bible-toting minister's daughter, with her drab brown sweaters, spinster hairstyle and sincere, beatific advice, is the obvious target of high school ridicule. Despite conspiring in Jamie's derision, class president Landon, desperate for a date for the homecoming dance, finds himself asking Jamie. Afterwards, Jamie asks him to participate with her in the metaphor-laden school Christmas play (Jamie plays the angel). Landon endures the taunting of his friends and forms an uneasy friendship with Jamie, which is carefully supervised by her father. The teens visit needy orphans, give Oscar-worthy performances in the school play and share dreams watching the sunset. Landon realizes he's in love with Jamie, but, of course, she is hiding a devastating secret that could wring her from Landon's arms forever. Now tortured by his knowledge of what will be her terrible fate, he must make the ultimate decision that catapults him into adulthood. Readers may be frustrated with the invariable formula that Sparks seems to regurgitate with regularity. Although the narrator declares, "My story can't be summed up in two or three sentences; it can't be packaged into something neat and simple that people would immediately understand," this is the author's most simple, formulaic, and blatantly melodramatic package to date. Agent, Theresa Park, Sanford Greenburger Associates. Doubleday Book Club and Literary Guild main selections; 20-city author tour; movie rights optioned by Denise DiNovi at Warner Bros.. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
In this nostalgic look back at the late 1950s, Sparks, author of Message in a Bottle [BKL F 15 98], proves once again that he is a master at pulling heartstrings and bringing a tear to his readers' eyes. Beaufort, South Carolina, is a typical small town, and Landon Carter is just a regular guy poised to enjoy his senior year of high school until his father, the congressman, insists that because of his poor grades he needs to do something extra to get into college. Reluctantly, Landon runs for class president and wins. With his election comes responsibility, which includes attending the school dance. This puts Landon in a panic because he doesn't have a girlfriend. He decides to ask Jamie Sullivan, the minister's daughter, because she is the most acceptable of the geeks and probably hasn't been asked yet. They have a good time but Landon doesn't think much about her until they both star in the Christmas play, which her father wrote about his search for love after her mother died. Everyone is excited about Jamie starring as the angel, and Landon takes to walking her home after rehearsals. He finds himself falling in love, but Jamie has a secret that will break his--and Sparks' readers'--hearts. Told in Landon's down-home voice, this bittersweet tale will enthrall Sparks' numerous fans and should be a big hit during the holiday season. --Patty Engelmann
Kirkus Book Review
Sparks (The Notebook, 1996; Message in a Bottle, 1998) carries on in his determined effort to make people cry, this time with an old premise, slow windup, and wobbly pitch. In 1958, high-school senior Landon Carter is 17. Even though his father is a US Congressman, Landon's best friends are on the taunting, swaggering side'football players and such, who hang around at the local drive-in and flaunt their disrespect. So it's strange indeed when Landon gets involved with the nicest girl in town'classmate Jamie Sullivan, who carries a Bible everywhere she goes, does endless good deeds, and is the only child of the widowed Rev. Hegbert Sullivan, the churchman whom Landon and gang love to throw taunts after from hiding places behind trees. But Landon has enrolled in a drama class (for the easy A), and that class is responsible for putting on the annual Christmas play, written by Hegbert, which will be special this year because the author's beloved daughter will have the female lead'she's an angel who ministers to a sorrow-filled widower. When Jamie asks Landon if he won't please be the male lead, what can he say? And what can he do, as rehearsals go on, when he starts not only respecting Jamie, but liking her? Embarrassing as it is before his friends, Landon starts helping her do good deeds, and, on performance night, seeing her true beauty for the first time, falls in love with her. Oh, say it isn't so'since great, deep sorrow lies ahead. For Jamie has a secret that, when she tells it to her loving Landon, explains everything'the Bible she carries, new meanings in the Christmas play, even Jamie's reasons for finding it really special this year. Sparks pulls out all the stops as Landon, from a vantage of 40 years later, tells the story out to its teary end. Weepy wisdom aimed at the holiday trade.