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190 of 206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best of me
"The Best of me" by Nicholas Sparks follows the love story of Dawson Cole--a young man from a never do well family, who is sent to prison after he accidentally runs over the town's doctor, and upon release is nearly killed during an explosion in his new oil rig job--and Amanda Collier, his high school sweetheart who came from a wealthy family, and who, all those years...
Published on October 24, 2011 by Alla S.

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180 of 210 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Me is not his best
I love Nicholas Sparks books, but lately have been disappointed. It is as if he has written every good plot he can think of so now, in desperation, turns to the cliches that are sure-fire tissue twisters. In Safe Haven, which I really did like because it was so different than his other books, Sparks added the element of suspense and a tiny bit of a ghost angle. Well,...
Published on October 13, 2011 by Amber


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190 of 206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best of me, October 24, 2011
This review is from: The Best of Me (Hardcover)
"The Best of me" by Nicholas Sparks follows the love story of Dawson Cole--a young man from a never do well family, who is sent to prison after he accidentally runs over the town's doctor, and upon release is nearly killed during an explosion in his new oil rig job--and Amanda Collier, his high school sweetheart who came from a wealthy family, and who, all those years later, is a married stay-at-home mom who occasionally ventures out to volunteer at the town's medical center.

The occasion for their union is the death of Tuck Hostetler, an elderly car mechanic who was their mutual friend and wished for them to scatter his ashes at a cottage owned by his ex-wife, the love of life who died before him, Clara. As Dawson and Amanda visit Tuck's estate and fulfill his wishes, they fall in love with each other all over again. But twenty years have passed, and Amanda's current married life and her mother's disapproval creates a huge obstacle.

But this is not the only problem Dawson faces. Elsewhere in town, his cousins Ted and Abee found out his back in town and want to plot their revenge for Dawson beating them up all these years ago. Not satisfied with a confrontation, Ted plots to murder Dawson. Meanwhile, Abee is caught up in a romance of his own--one that ultimately turns dangerous for all the participants involved.

My thoughts: as in many of Sparks' previous novels, this story is told from different points of view. This is an effective device that Sparks uses, letting the reader get intimately acquainted with all of the characters. Right off the bat, we know that Dawson wears his heart on his sleeve--and is a vulnerable character--weighted down by guilt, lost love, and loneliness. Amanda is less of a dreamer than Dawson--preferring to stay in the present, and deal with the cards she's been dealt. Ted and Abee are both emotionally unstable, violent characters who lack any sort of morality or practicality. And Tuck is a father-figure character, who is above any of the negative events taking place throughout the book, and more of a symbol of how the characters should have acted, but never did.

There's some paranormal elements to this story, but also a kind of nostalgic feel of lost time. You really root for Dawson and Amanda to get back together. But Sparks makes their relationship a mystery--up until the last third of the book. The conflicts created by the presence of Ted and Abee, Amanda's unpleasant mother, and Dawson's own demons are nicely incorporated into the plot. The ending is unpredictable, as the storylines of different characters are unexpectedly connected. The character who seemed so minor only a few pages ago, now has a major role in the story's outcome. And the story keeps you guessing until the last chapters.
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180 of 210 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Me is not his best, October 13, 2011
This review is from: The Best of Me (Hardcover)
I love Nicholas Sparks books, but lately have been disappointed. It is as if he has written every good plot he can think of so now, in desperation, turns to the cliches that are sure-fire tissue twisters. In Safe Haven, which I really did like because it was so different than his other books, Sparks added the element of suspense and a tiny bit of a ghost angle. Well, after experimenting with it and seeing it pleased his fans, he's gone all out with it in this book, landing a ghost as a secondary character and throwing in a couple of back hill goons with a love for their Glocks.

Here's the plot in a nutshell. Dawson Cole, the kid from the wrong side of the track and Amanda Collier, the rich pretty girl fall in love. Alas, their love is doomed, so they part ways, but this love was so very strong Dawson could never find it in him to love another and led a loner life. (I ask ... how many guys would go their ENTIRE lives without ever being with a woman or wanting a family, content to keep company with a memory?) Amanda though, has married a dentist who drinks too much and makes her miserable. She compares herself to an otter asleep on the side of his cage at the zoo, knowing this isn't the life she's supposed to live but with no way out. Even on her wedding day, she wished the poor man at the end of the aisle away, longing for Dawson.

The book begins with Dawson knowing that he should have died when the oil rig he worked on had an explosion. But instead, after he flopped in the water, this dark haired man in a wind breaker appears and Dawson swims towards him to safety. Suddenly this wind breaker guy is popping up here and there, sometimes just a flicker in the corner of his eye, but Dawson can never get a close look at him before he disappears. (That weird secondary character I mentioned earlier.)

An old man from his hometown dies and his attorney requests Dawson's presence. This old man, named Tuck, was a friend so he goes and, lo and behold, who else should the attorney have also called into town, but Amanda, who was also friends with Tuck. Now Tuck was a raging romantic and he'd planned before his death in great detail a fabulous, bring out the sex night away for these two at a little cottage set in paradise. (which brings to mind the already done Nights in Rodanthe.) I will leave you hanging so you can breathlessly turn pages to see if they give in to temptation. I thought this whole bit was cliched, due to the fact a thousand novels have been written about sisters, friends, mothers and daughters, and ex-lovers who are forced together due to a funeral. It's not exactly a surprise what happens.

While all of this romance and rediscovery is happening, there is the threat of some of Dawson's wrong side of the law cousins. (Sparks makes these guys like comic book villians with no real personalities.) Suddenly between these rough neck characters and another surprise event, the novel goes from the sinewy muscles of Dawson's arms' and the heat of his breath on her neck, to a breakneck switch that throws the readers out of their dreamy state into a bucket of cold water.

And then the end. Sparks does his best to make it a fine mix of happy slash sad. He always tries to get in those hankie moments and he really goes for broke with the last pages. One can see what's coming, and whether you're clinging to your tissue and saying, "Oh Sparks, you did it again," or "I can't believe it's come to this - a recycled tear jerker' - either way one must admire Nicholas Sparks. Many a woman would love a man who can think so romantic and put so much of his heart into words.

Or is it just that he has a formula for novels he knows will sell?

Either way, I will continue to read every novel Nicolas Sparks puts out there. There's always a hope the next one will be better and there have been some really great ones already written. Safe Haven is one of those and I can't wait until the movie comes out(mentioned in Acknowledgments).

In ending, read it because truly you can't go wrong with anything he writes but don't expect a novel that will knock you away with its fresh plot.
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103 of 126 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wish I hadn't read it!, October 14, 2011
By 
lannie (peachy in GA, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Best of Me (Kindle Edition)
I tremendously enjoy Spark's books so I wish I had not added this one to my collection to taint the mix. I considered giving this a single star but out of respect for the obviously talented author and the character development of Dawson & Amanda, I begrudgingly gave it two. I have read this book before. The characters have had different names and are set in different times and places and were written by different authors but this story line was hardly original which is unfortunate because the two main characters, along with Tuck were believable for the most part. I agree with another reviewer that Dawson's perpetual fidelity was poignant but unrealistic; reminds me of a sad country song. Shades of John Tyree's touching altruism were revisited (Dear John) but to a much more painful degree which left me wanting something entirely different from the way the last half of the story was written. I was a bit aggravated when I suspected where the story was headed and skipped ahead to confirm my suspicions which is something I rarely do. Incidentally, I hope future offerings from Sparks will avoid the magical, mysterious, paranormal characters that have been lurking in the periphery of some of his more recent books. I find them a little contrived and distracting. I do appreciate that Mr. Spark's books are character driven and that his stories focus on human emotions rather than dragging the readers through a mire of profanity and meaningless copulation that so many of this genre fall to. I am looking forward to his next book but this one just didn't do it for me.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The best until the end, and then it is the WORST!, August 9, 2014
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This review is from: The Best of Me (Kindle Edition)
This book was a solid 4 stars and maybe a 5 until I got to the last few chapters. Dawson obviously didn't get a fair shake in life even though he played by the rules. He lost the girl he loved because he was from the wrong side of the tracks. Okay, I get that. He came from a bad family, but was still a good guy. This only made the deranged men in the family want to kill him. He went to jail for an accident that wasn't his fault and paid the price by feeling guilty and taking responsibility throughout his life. He never loved another woman. In the meantime, a man with dark hair in a windbreaker showed up, usually to help him out of dire situations. Dawson and Amanda are brought together after 20 years due to the death of a beloved friend. Her life is not what she had hoped. Yes, they still love each other and share a special night. Of course, she loves him, but her life is complicated, and they can't be together. Blah, blah, blah. But I had hope because poor Dawson has to deal with his crazy family who try to kill him (for no good reason other than they can and they are nuts), and he's been lonely and alone and is amazingly handsome and sensitive and every woman's dream. But, wait, something terrible happens in Amanda's life because of her husband (who she doesn't really love and who is an alcoholic). In the meantime, poor Dawson has yet another encounter with his two crazy cousins who just happen to be trying to kill the son of the man Dawson keeps seeing (is he real or is he a ghost)? Long story, short, poor Dawson ends up on the short side of the stick AGAIN. Of course, Amanda will ALWAYS love him, but because of Dawson, her son is alive (even though he'd be dead because of her husband's mistakes). GRRRRRR! SPOILER: I thought this story would end with the death of the Bonner kid, and his heart going to Amanda's kid. I was stunned that Dawson died. Ted, the sick, disgusting, drug running, abusive SOB, finally got his way). I was so angry that Dawson died that I will not read another Nicholas Sparks book (and I have been a big fan). I realize that not every story has a happy ending, but come on, poor Dawson did everything right and was always punched in the gut literally and figuratively. Everything that happened to him was unfair, except for meeting and spending time with Tuck. Reading Tuck's letters and the time spent with Amanda seemed like destiny for the couple, even though hard times were sure to come. I can't believe she stayed with Frank. HATE, HATE, HATE the ending Mr. Sparks!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst Sparks Book Ever, March 12, 2012
This review is from: The Best of Me (Hardcover)
This is the absolute worst Sparks book ever. If you are an avid sparks reader, like me, you know how his stories are going to go. You have to expect some heart ache and some death - but seriously?? The ending was SO predictable and SO bad! Thank Goodness I borrowed the book from the library and didn't actually spend a cent on it. However, I am still mad that I wasted my time. I liked the basic plot, but stop killing people with cancer, and stop tearing apart the people who should be together in the end. Would it kill you to write a happy ending for once? People have enough drama and crap in their every day lives - they don't need to read about it in one of your books. Maybe give us some hope in this otherwise depressing world. If they make this one into a movie I will boycott it. I will tell everyone I know that he ending is HORRIBLE and not to go see it.
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31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Please tell me Nicholas Sparks is retiring!, November 28, 2011
This review is from: The Best of Me (Hardcover)
Oh my gosh, Mr. Sparks, you owe me! I wasted so many hours on this drivel. I knew when the book came automatically from my stupid book club that I had made a mistake in not cancelling the selection, however, I decided to give it a go anyway. BIG mistake! This book defies logic- seeing ghosts, friendships between people with no reason to be friends, secrets between spouses and parents, reunions with people from long ago with no explanations, and I could go on and on. It is contrived at best, but really just a hot mess. I stopped reading at about page 250 because I just didn't even care what happened to the main characters. I skimmed through the rest and discovered the most appalling turn of events ever written. What an insult to my intelligence. The ending is not possible in even the most extraordinary cases. Never again will I purchase a book from this author.
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Predictable and disappointing ending, October 21, 2011
By 
K. Kenzig (Sullivan, OH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Best of Me (Hardcover)
I have read all of Nicholas Sparks' books. I have enjoyed all of them. I was disappointed in The Best of Me. Not all of his books have "happily ever after" endings where the characters end up together, and I am OK with that. This ending ruined the book for me.

I liked the characters of Dawson and Amanda and their love story very much.

I did not like how other lesser characters were just dropped in the story. There was a random little chapter here and there mentioning Marilyn and Alan Bonner, and Candy. These didn't flow well with the rest of the story. It was almost like, here are a few other people that relate to the story that you might want to know about.

I guessed early on who the man in the windbreaker following Dawson was. I think the author wanted the reader to know before Dawson. I had no problem with that.

The problem I had is that when Amanda began her drive home, it was like I was reading a different story. It just didn't fit with the rest of the book for me. I thought what happened with Dawson fit well, right up until the final moment, but Amanda's part made it seem like it was a different novel. I guessed the ending with 30 pages to go. In some of the author's other novels, I have guessed at the ending, but have never nailed it perfectly, there was always some aspect that I hadn't anticipated. Not this time. I said to myself, "If this is the way it ends, I will be very disappointed." And I was. I won't give the ending away, but it ruined the story for me. I am very disappointed. Not one of Nicholas Sparks' best books.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ripped my heart out and stomped on it., February 16, 2014
By 
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This review is from: The Best of Me (Kindle Edition)
This book started off so refreshing and promising. Then? The end. Why, Nicholas Sparks? Why? Next time just kick a puppy in front of me and it would be less agonizing.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Worst of Sparks, February 21, 2013
This review is from: The Best of Me (Paperback)
As a fan of his other works, I was eager to read The Best of Me and Safe Haven. Both were HUGE disappointments, clearly written for Hollywood. Amanda in The Best of Me is a carbon copy of Allie from The Notebook. The plot has everything but the kitchen sink: first love, child abuse, alcoholism, class differences, backwoods goons with guns, car accidents, an oil rig explosion, ghosts, and transplant surgery - seriously??? It was almost like a bunch of elements edited out of previous novels were thrown together to meet a deadline.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Worse for Me, February 20, 2012
This review is from: The Best of Me (Kindle Edition)
Every time after I finish a Nicholas Sparks book I swear to myself this is the last time I'll read one of his books. This time I mean it. I can't take any more sappy, unrealistic endings. The story line in The Best of Me was one of his worse. It was silly from the beginning...something that a love sick teen would write in her diary. There's very little reality in this story. No normal man is never going to go on another date and never have sex again because he lost his first love at the ripe old age of 18. Dawson's mysterious ghost man and Tuck's visions of his dead wife did nothing to save this poorly written storyline. They just made it more ridiculous. The storyline and characters had no depth and never came to life for me. Don't waste your time or money on this book.
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The Best of Me
The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
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