Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Last Song

The bummer about being sick is the complete inactivity it causes! Just vacuuming and mopping this week had me wheezing and hacking for 15 minutes. It's truly driving me crazy. When I am sitting here, I think "Oh, I can do will only take a minute." But the minute I try, I can't breathe. This is getting ridiculous.

The benefit of being sick is I get to catch up on my reading! Today I felt like reviewing a book, and it was a toss up between John Piper and Nicholas Sparks. :) Strange combination, but Nicholas Sparks had to win- mostly because I am thinking about my girl today and she loved this story. (Maybe tomorrow I will get around to telling you about Piper's book "What Jesus Demands From the World". WOW.)

"The Last Song" is probably one of the fastest, sweetest reads out there for teens. I am not a fan of Mr. Sparks as you probably know. The situations he puts his characters in, and the "romance worship" is usually too distracting for me to really find the meaning and relevance I like in a fiction work. (Same issue with the Twilight series) Not to say he isn't a creative mind- he just uses lots of words to say little. Not this time! The Last Song set on the coast of North Carolina, beautiful descriptions and is full of dynamic characters who he develops well. The teenage girl, "Ronnie" is meant to be the main character, but because Sparks writes various chapters from other characters third person perspective- it draws you into each of them just as much as to Ronnie. In fact, the most tender, heart-wrenching moments are focused on her Father, Steve, rather than the summer romance between Ronnie and Will, the young man she meets and can't stand, but later falls in love with. (Big surprise- hope I didn't ruin it for you.)

If you watched the movie version, you will think the story is mostly about Ronnie and the boy, but if you take the time to pick up the book- you will find that most of the best parts, and by far the funniest parts, revolve around Ronnie, her dad and her brother, Jonah. All in all, a very endearing book, in the clean and healthy vein of his other book, "A Walk to Remember" (the only other story I enjoyed by him). The story shows clearly the damage to children when parents choose their own happiness and divorce, and it shows clearly that with hard work and unconditional love- that same family can find forgiveness and restoration. There is only one scene I wish he had omitted (see if you can pick it out :) and he tries (fails but tries) to draw in a search for God and a definition of faith which at least will get people talking about God, His Plan and His Ways, I hope. My favorite piece is when he shares how Steve meets and befriends the local pastor as a young boy, and the role that pastor plays in the rest of the book is absolutely superb. THAT is what Christian faith and love is suppose to look like. Not being a believer but raised Catholic, Sparks has said he feels very comfortable writing about faith. That is apparent in this book, although because of his own distance from God, he gets confused in the attempt to help the characters "find" God. But again, in comparison to what is out there for our teens to read- this one is safe, engaging and one they most likely won't put down. My daughter's sweet response to this book was not wishing for the perfect guy, but rather "Oh, mom! I LOVE my daddy! He is the best!" That's exactly how the book makes you feel. You want to pick up the phone and tell your father how much you love him and appreciate all that he is, and helped you become. How often can you say that about a mainstream "romance" novel?

Go pick it up- 9 bucks at Costco. Borrow it from me, check it out at the library (if they have it!) Give yourself a a handful of hours to indulge in a truly great story. The Last Song will remind you to smile as you breathe in God's good air, make you want to hug your family close, and thank Him for every minute you have.

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