Book of the Week: The Longest Ride
The Longest Ride, by Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central, 398 pp. $27
Usually, when I write the “Book of the Week” post, I expand on the review I wrote for that week’s Spencer Daily Reporter. The reason is largely spacial: I write a weekly book review and music review for the newspaper, and there’s only so much space I have for both. Most weeks, I try to write a shorter review for the paper that I can work with and draw out here. This week, however, I finished my review for Nicholas Sparks’ The Longest Ride, and I realized I couldn’t shorten it. As a result, I scrapped the music review and ran the book review in its entirety.
With this in mind, I’m going to include the review for the “Book of the Week” as I wrote it for the Daily Reporter. If you’re still on the fence, check out my “Sneak Peak” of the book.
I admit it: Nicholas Sparks is my guilty pleasure.
I read the books and I watch the movies. Every time a preview for a new one comes on TV, my face lights up like a Christmas tree and I feel Nic’s eyes roll from across the room.
In my opinion, Sparks is a Thomas Kinkade-parallel to commercial fiction. His stories are always heartwarming, they tend to reflect a similar pattern, a lot of people find him kitschy, but he’s made a lot (read: a lot) of money doing what he does.
I get it all. I understand that many of his books follow a similar basic plot structure. But, that being said, if I could sell millions of copies and make millions of dollars writing the same thing over and over again, I totally would.
The Longest Ride dips into the world of professional bull-riding. Sophia is a college student at Wake Forest University, deflecting every advance of her still-clingy ex-boyfriend as best she can. At a party one night, however, she is approached again by Brian, this time drunk. She has trouble convincing him that she is, indeed, done with the relationship. Fortunately for her, the mysterious guy she had seen staring across the meadow comes up and forcefully tells him to step down. Luke is a professional bull rider who continues to ride despite his mother’s objections. Their relationship has been cold for months.
Meanwhile, Ira Levinson has run himself off the road during a snowstorm and now fights for his life amidst excruciating physical pain. His late wife, Ruth, appears to him and retells their own love story as a means of keeping him alive as long as possible.
Oddly enough, I found the male character development a little lacking. Usually, the characters of the same gender as the author are more fleshed out because the author can use his or her own experiences in their development. In The Longest Ride, I felt more of an emotional pull from Sophia and Ruth than I did from Luke or Ira.
Like many of Sparks’ books, The Longest Ride has already been greenlighted for a film, coming 2015. I enjoyed the book, but I’m going to venture out a little early and say the movie will probably be better. Some of his books, namely Safe Haven and A Walk to Remember, carried emotional and psychological elements the movies couldn’t. Others, including The Lucky One and The Notebook, were enhanced by the visual interpretation.