ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nicholas Charles Sparks is an American romance novelist and screenwriter. He has published twenty novels and two non-fiction books. Several of his novels have become international bestsellers, and eleven of his romantic-drama novels have been adapted to films with multimillion-dollar box office grosses.
“They didn’t agree on much. In fact, they didn’t agree on anything. They fought all the time and challenged each other every day. But despite their differences, they had one important thing in common. They were crazy about each other.”
Dear John narrates the story of John, a military man who falls in love shortly before 9/11, and how he finds out what true love means to him.
Our narrator, John, is a young and directionless rebel who bypasses college and enlists in the army. One summer, he meets Savannah and falls in love, the kind which leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour and John to settle down with the woman he loves. But when 9/11 happens, John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. Sadly, their love doesn’t survive this separation and ends with Savannah falling in love with someone else, and the story continues.
“Part of me aches at the thought of her being so close yet so untouchable, but her story and mine are different now. It wasn’t easy for me to accept this simple truth, because there was a time when our stories were the same, but that was six years and two lifetimes ago.”
Dear John has a fairly formulaic plot. Although the writing is smooth, the characters aren’t particularly memorable. The author is among the first ones to set the boy-meets-girl story in the post-9/11 era, but the effect of war on characters has not been stressed strongly enough. The separation is of importance, but which war caused it has not been underlined much.
That being said, the characters are likable, and the story does not seem unrealistic. The storyline could not have been better. The pace with which the plot progresses is perfect and any corrections would have either slowed down the attachment or would have hampered the emotional connect of the reader with the book. The way the scenes are described and the romance is shown is very realistic and pure. Also, adding that extra twist to the tale and the sudden turn of events makes the overall plot gripping. It is the kind of book that you would read periodically as you feel for the couple and also sympathize with their situation.
This book touches upon many topics, including true love, long distance relationships and how separation affects them, mental disabilities and sacrifice. Sparks never deceives us, but neither does he ever reveal too much. Telling us the story years after the events, he imbues the plot with sorrow and a muted mourning. It is an infusion that makes the reader appreciate the intensity of the relationship between the two and the desire both had to make it work while giving the reader the foreknowledge that it won’t. It is easy to read the book while wondering how this near-perfect relationship could fall apart and makes one constantly hopeful that something will happen to change the despondent ending revealed in the opening chapter.
The subplot of John’s relationship with his father is also great. The way in which John’s feelings towards his father change, the effect of finding out his dad had a mental illness, his anger, denial and acceptance, all have been portrayed beautifully, while never leaving the main story.
Dear John is a nice beach read – romantic, sappy, sad and tragic. Easily scoring a 3.8 out of 5, it raises important questions like what true love means, if it can only exist between people when they are together or if it demands something more by one person for the happiness of the other – a sacrifice. It is a perfect read for a cold or rainy day when you have nothing much to do and want to sit indoors with a cup of coffee and, in this case, a box of tissues.
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