Summary: Seventeen year-old Veronica “Ronnie” Miller’s life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, especially her father… until her mother decides it would be in everyone’s best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him.
Ronnie’s father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church. The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story about love in its myriad forms – first love, the love between parents and children – that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that deeply felt relationships can break our hearts… and heal them.
Source: I purchased a paperback
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A friend of mine who doesn’t really like sappy romances recommended The Last Song to me when we were discussing the few Nicholas Sparks book we enjoyed, so I figured I’d check it out. I’ve never seen the movie, nor did I know what the book would be about.
There were aspects about The Last Song that I enjoyed. I think, as a whole, the story was great. I liked the characters, the plot, and the romance, and the way Ronnie grew throughout the whole book. I liked the lessons learned and the way it ended. There were certainly moments I felt I could relate to very strongly having met my husband at 17 and falling for him pretty quickly, as well as mending my relationship with my dad a lot more after realizing how little I really knew about the situation between my parents. My husband was the one to show me mudding and fishing and generally all things redneck because I didn’t come from the south, much like Will did with Ronnie. Like Ronnie, I also have a funny little brother, and I didn’t have the best group of friends at certain points in my teenage life. So there were definitely a ton of things I connected with and related to when it come to Ronnie’s story.
However, the book fell flat for me overall. I’m usually fine with third person narration, but this book felt distant and not written very well. I felt like there was way more telling instead of showing and the only character who really broke through that writing was Jonah because he had such a strong personality and maybe Ronnie’s dad because he was an adult. Mostly, I felt like the author was writing about teenagers without really getting into character, which made all of Ronnie and Will’s perspectives feel weird. The author did well with Ronnie’s dad point of view, which is why I feel like it was merely a problem of getting into the minds of the teen characters.
I felt like I was reading a story about two teenagers from the perspective of someone who doesn’t understand them at all and feels as if they are one dimensional. It was frustrating because I liked Ronnie and Will and even Blaze and I felt like the author could have explored their characters a bit more and treated them like normal. He even failed to do justice to Scott and Marcus, creating characters who were selfish for the sake of being selfish and bad for the sake of being bad. Marcus was probably a really complicated person and he was way too generalized. Maybe I read way too much YA, but if you can’t write from a teen characters perspective without simplifying them as people, then perhaps you shouldn’t be writing about teens at all.
Overall, The Last Song was a great story that was limited by the writing. It could have been amazing, but instead it fell just short of the mark. I do recommend the book to fans of Nicholas Sparks. It’s definitely a great story and perhaps my issues are due to not caring for his contemporary romances in the first place aside from a select few and also reading a lot of YA and expecting more from authors writing about young adults.
I had a tiny problem with the issue of God in the book. It was certainly subtle, but I think that’s what caused me to notice it at all. It felt misplaced in the story because the characters never really explored anything. Besides Pastor Harris praying and Steve trying to understand how he talks to God and reading the Bible a couple of times, no other mention of God was really there until Ronnie started randomly placing emphasis on it. You never really see her come into Christianity or praying expect for once with Pastor Harris and then suddenly she’s interjecting Holy Spirit into paragraphs. It was weird. I would have preferred the author taken a similar route to A Walk to Remember by having it front and center a bit more, had a few more scenes with Ronnie generally attempting to connect with God and seeing her believe, or just omitted the whole thing altogether. I don’t think most people will take issue with this because I feel like a lot of churchgoing people randomly sprinkle in Holy Spirit references anyway, but I was thrown off.
Honestly thought, The Last Song isn’t bad if Nicholas Sparks is an author you typically read and my biggest issue is that he isn’t a go to author for me. I know I was underwhelmed when I kept thinking that perhaps the movie would convey a scene better than the book.