A friend of mine suggested I read Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook. I recoiled immediately. See, I don’t read books that make me cry. I read books that take me on fantastic adventures, epics and fantasies, science fiction and faerie tales, mysteries and historical fiction, biographies and non-fiction (occasionally) and classics. But I draw the line at books that cause tears.
But, there I was at the used bookstore in Caseville, a selection of reading options before me, and I found myself browsing tales written by Nicholas Sparks. My father has read everything Sparks has written, which encouraged me a bit. Before I realized it, I reached out for the movie-covered paperback version of this book that was the New York Times bestseller for over a year.
It sat in my car for a while, teasing me and daring me to open it. So, this holiday season when my emotions and sentimentality were already flaring, I decided it was time. So, there I was on the day after Christmas settling into my chair with the book in hand.
I was drawn in quickly. The book quotes poetry … Whitman, Keats and others. I adore Whitman. I don’t memorize poetry often, with the exception of James Whitcomb Riley. But To A Stranger and Captain, My Captain have always moved me and inspired my spirit. Early in the story, Noah quotes him. A guy who reads and quotes poetry in a book written by a guy? I was hooked.
This is thy hour, O Soul, the free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lessons done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and stars.
There is a lyrical quality to the writing, not sure if this is true of all Sparks’ books, but this one truly captivated my heart as the story is poetry in itself. There are beautifully crafted thoughts and images that take me to New Bern, NC and create a very vivid impression of the house and the porch. The words connected me to the characters in an artful way.
In terms of plot, the story begins towards the end: a man in love daily sharing words he preserved about a life led in a Notebook he has written that he reads daily to the woman he clearly adores. (Another turn on – a guy writing a journal with a love story in it too!) Anyway, as you turn the pages, you think you know who they are, but you aren’t quite sure. You are hopeful though, so you keep reading. And you find out that this woman (Spoiler Alert Here as if there is anyone but me who hasn’t read this book or seen the movie) has been stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Though I anticipated it, I almost abandoned the book here. You see, I lost my Grandfather to this horrible disease nearly 20 years ago and it still affects me, the marks red as though struck only days ago. It’s an awful disease. However, I read on.
I immersed my sentimental, romantic spirit in a beautiful, timeless love story. I found myself dog-earring pages and underlining quotes that touched me, re-reading them over and over before moving on. Such love. Such passion. Such struggle. And there are details along with emotional content applied with brush strokes to a canvas in a way I rarely experience.
Then, as I drew nearer to the end of the story, it happened. The tears began to flow. Even as I think of the final pages, I get choked up. I guess Noah had it right when he said “Poets often describe love as an emotion we can’t control, one that overwhelms logic and common sense.” But in this book, something rare and beautiful was created. Something that can survive time, distance, separation and a horrible sickness simply because two souls connected.
In a time where connections and relationships of all types are difficult and challenged — when people are all charged up — this little book was a reminder that love is strong. That love is patient and understanding. That separation is not always goodbye forever but a farewell ’til souls meet again — or until the time is right to reunite those souls. Friends, family members, children, acquaintances who live far away, loved ones … it doesn’t matter. Souls connected are just … Connected for always.
So, The Notebook made me cry. But, I’m glad I read it anyway.
If you haven’t read it and you can prepare yourself for surges of emotion and poetry, well, I challenge you to pick it up. It’s a classic tale of love and it won’t take you long to reach those final pages.
But it will take you on a wonderful adventure and remind you that passion is ageless AND timeless.