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Sparks Specializes in Sad Songs

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There are those who would argue that each and every one of Nicholas Sparks' novels, beginning with The Notebook, is pure schmaltz. Many argue he aims for the tear ducts and won't rest until they are drained dry. Still, say what you want, Sparks writes books that touch the heart and entertain the mind and to my way of thinking that is just what he ought to do.

His latest heart-tugger is titled The Last Song, and it was supposedly written with teen sensation Miley Cyrus in mind. The movie version of the book is already in production and Cyrus is the star so I guess that rumor was true. In this case the book paints the picture of a young girl who certainly can be played by Cyrus.

The focus of the book is on Ronnie, a seventeen-year-old who is forced to spend the summer with her father at a beach in North Carolina. Ronnie's parents are divorced and she hasn't spoken to her father in three years. Now she and her younger brother Jonah are stuck with their father for months. Jonah likes the idea but Ronnie hates it.

Steering clear of her father Ronnie spends her first few days at the beach. There she meets some of the locals including a volley ball champ named Will. Meeting Will changes Ronnie's attitude about the summer, and in some ways changes her attitude about her father.

The Last Song is a complex story about love, fidelity, hate, teen angst and overall growing up. The relationship between Ronnie and her Dad is a complex one. She resents him for his leaving in the past and he adores her for just being alive. Watching these two characters evolve toward a resolution of their differences makes for engrossing and absorbing storytelling.

Sparks is not afraid to face the emotions of his characters. He does this with honesty and compassion, and sometimes with gut-wrenching intensity. There are moments in this story that are so affecting that you have to stop reading until you can see the pages through your tears. Is this contrived? Is this manipulative? Maybe it is, but it is also the true heart of the story.

Emotion is not a bad thing to feel while reading a story. Heartbreak happens in life and in books about lives. It is natural and honest. Sparks just happens to be talented when it comes to creating stories that reach out and touch us in more ways than one. Rather than condemn him for this, it is better to read and enjoy these stories for what they accomplish.

The focus of the book is on Ronnie, a seventeen-year-old who is forced to spend the summer with her father at a beach in North Carolina. Ronnie's parents are divorced and she hasn't spoken to her father in three years. Now she and her younger brother Jonah are stuck with their father for months. Jonah likes the idea but Ronnie hates it.

Steering clear of her father Ronnie spends her first few days at the beach. There she meets some of the locals including a volley ball champ named Will. Meeting Will changes Ronnie's attitude about the summer, and in some ways changes her attitude about her father.

The Last Song is a book that plays to our emotions. If you, as a reader, don't appreciate that type of story, then this is a book to avoid. However if you are okay with having your buttons pushed and human emotions touched then you will find this story one that will bring you to the heights and depths of feeling. The important thing is you will feel the joy and the pain of these characters as they live out the pages of Nicholas Sparks' latest book.

The focus of the book is on Ronnie, a seventeen-year-old who is forced to spend the summer with her father at a beach in North Carolina. Ronnie's parents are divorced and she hasn't spoken to her father in three years. Now she and her younger brother Jonah are stuck with their father for months. Jonah likes the idea but Ronnie hates it.

Steering clear of her father Ronnie spends her first few days at the beach. There she meets some of the locals including a volley ball champ named Will. Meeting Will changes Ronnie's attitude about the summer, and in some ways changes her attitude about her father.

The Last Song is published by Grand Central Publishing. It contains 390 pages and sells for $24.99.

Jackie K. Cooper