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“Dear John”: love lasts forever?

For the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to get Nicholas Sparks‘s beautiful novel, Dear John, out of my head. It’s not one his newest releases but, to me, it’s one of his timeless classics that you could never get bored or tired of reading.

Sparks has been setting young girls standards impeccably high with his novels, and rightfully so. He tells the stories of those who who find love, true love, and how right and perfect it can be. Don’t get me wrong, his characters aren’t perfect – far from it. They each have flaws; they all make mistakes. But his point is always the same: that when you find the right person, they can make you want to be a better person, they bring out the best in you, and if if you’re really lucky, they’ll even make you love the things you once hated about yourself. And Dear John is no different.

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When John meets Savannah, he realises he is ready to make some changes. Always the angry rebel at school, he has enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life. Now he’s ready to turn over a new leaf for the woman who has captured his heart.

What neither realises is that the events of 9/11 will change everything. John is prompted to re-enlist and fulfil what he feels is his duty to his country. But the lovers are young and their separation is long. Can they survive the distance?

It is a romance novel, which of course means that it’s going to feature heartbreak. It’s no secret that I’m a total sucker for love stories, I’ve always enjoyed reading them, the characters always have a hope that’s so contagious that it’s hard to contain.

For me personally, these kind of stories built up an idea in my head of the kind of people worth falling for. They filled me with the promise of when it’s right, you’ll know it with every fibre of your being. Some would argue that it meant that I never really gave anyone a chance, but I believe that it’s only ensured that when I found someone that special, I would recognise it instinctively, and would be certain that no matter what happens, there would never be another one like him.

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Not only did Sparks show me the kind of love worth having in Dear John, but he also taught me many other lessons through his deeper meanings. One of these being change.

This may seem more like an obvious observation as opposed to a deeper meaning with this book, especially with the main character going back to war after 9/11 attack which changed everything. But this is not what I mean.

In this novel, one change caused an avalanche of others. One thing altered the rest of the story. John re-enlists to the army again after the 9/11 attack, after planning to come home to Savannah. In his absence Savannah changed as a person. When her friend, Tim, became ill and needed her, he fell in love with her. He needed her, and the circumstances changed. Which meant that John and Savannah’s happy ever after changed when she ended up marrying Tim.

However, although these two characters didn’t spend the rest of their lives together as they maybe should have, they still loved each other with everything they had. That was the one thing that never changed.

I know what you’re probably thinking, “how can she still have loved John if she ended up marrying Tim?” and you would be right to question it. But even Tim himself knew that the way she loved him had nothing on the way she loved John. He asked John to make her happy, to love her, to be with her, if anything ever happened to him. He said:

“I know she loves me, but she’s never loved me the way she loved you. She never had that burning passion for me, but we were making a good life together… Yesterday, when you came in, I saw the way she was looking at you, and I knew that she still loved you. More than that, I know she always will. It breaks my heart, but you know what? I’m still in love with her, and to me that means I want nothing more than for her to be happy in life.” – Nicholas Sparks, Dear John.

So I figured out, this deeper meaning to Dear John, is that people change, circumstances change, even life can change. But love? That it’s one of the few things in life that can remain constant; one of the only things in life that can last forever.

To quote Nicholas Sparks himself, “True love is rare, and it’s the only thing that gives life real meaning.”

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