10/26/2013 01:02 pm ET Updated Dec 26, 2013

Sparks' The Longest Ride Has a Too Tidy Ending

Book Review Jackie K Cooper
The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks can surely tell a story. On that you can rely. You can also trust that his stories are going to be full of drama, romance and compassion. These traits are his stock in trade and are the reasons his readers come back for each and every book he writes. His latest novel The Longest Ride certainly fits into these categories. It may not be Sparks at his best but it is Sparks as he is expected to be.

The book tells two stories that eventually merge. One concerns ninety one year old Ira Levinson. He has run his car over an embankment in a snow storm, and now is trapped in the car and injured. As time passes his deceased wife Ruth appears to him to keep him company and to provide comfort.

A short distance away a love story is blossoming. It concerns Wake Forest student Sofia Danko and a cowboy/rancher named Luke. They meet at a party and are drawn to each other instantly, even though they are from two different worlds. Sofia is an art history major with hopes of working in a large art museum one day while Luke is a rancher who also is on the rodeo circuit as a bull rider.

Eventually the two stories merge but when they do it is not done in the most realistic way. It provides a satisfying ending to the book but it is not an easy one to accept one. Sparks has been known to stretch the realm of possibilities in his other stories but never as much as this one does. It may turn off some of his readers but his hard core fans will accept it and move on.

Sparks' main strength in his writing is his creation of believable characters. Ira, his wife Ruth, Sofia and Luke are all fully drawn and possess traits which are endearing and some that are not. This combination of the good and not so good makes them all human and creates an interest in the reader to know more and more about them.

We also get a full picture of the locale of the story. Sparks appears to love North Carolina and he makes it a place of warmth and beauty. Whether it is on campus at Wake Forest, or at Luke's ranch, or in Greensboro where Ira and Ruth live, the enchantment of the surroundings is always impressive.

The Longest Ride is an easy book to read. You will be held captive to the story of the old man and the young couple. The only fault is in the too easily wrapped up conclusion of the tale. It ties everything together but it doesn't do it believably.

The Longest Ride is published by Grand Central Publishing. It contains 398 pages and sells for $27.00.

Jackie K Cooper