Books Chick Lit contemporary fiction Romance

Nicholas Sparks gives us a love story that transcends time and distance in “Every Breath”

Nicholas Sparks is one of the world’s most cherished and beloved storytellers. All of his books have been New York Times bestsellers, and with over 105 million copies sold worldwide, Sparks is known as the king of romance, the messenger of love and the conveyor of hope. He is the one person who, through his stories, reminds us that we can make our way back from anything and that it’s never too late. And his latest novel, Every Breath, is no different.

In the romantic tradition of The Notebook and Nights in Rodanthe, #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with a story about a chance encounter that becomes a touchstone for two vastly different individuals — transcending decades, continents, and the bittersweet workings of fate.

Hope Anderson is at a crossroads. At thirty-six, she’s been dating her boyfriend, an orthopedic surgeon, for six years. With no wedding plans in sight, and her father recently diagnosed with ALS, she decides to use a week at her family’s cottage in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to ready the house for sale and mull over some difficult decisions about her future.

Tru Walls has never visited North Carolina but is summoned to Sunset Beach by a letter from a man claiming to be his father. A safari guide, born and raised in Zimbabwe, Tru hopes to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding his mother’s early life and recapture memories lost with her death. When the two strangers cross paths, their connection is as electric as it is unfathomable . . . but in the immersive days that follow, their feelings for each other will give way to choices that pit family duty against personal happiness in devastating ways.

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In typical Sparks fashion, Every Breath is a testament to the way he can tell a love story that is a complex, emotional rollercoaster but at the same time remaining true and relatable with characters that we can relate to. However, this story was told in a slightly different way than his other stories. This time Sparks includes himself in the story as the narrator in the Prologue and Epilogue. In the Author’s Note at the end, he explains it as “a story within a story”, which I loved.

One thing to say about Every Breath is that at the beginning, Sparks talks about how it is a true story. But, in the Author’s Note the end, explains that it was entirely fictional and that was part of the story. It left some readers, myself included, feeling cheated and tricked. But just because it wasn’t a story based on real events, doesn’t mean it’s not true. I mean, isn’t that was fiction is all about? The selective transforming and twisting of reality to bring out its essence?

Even though Tru and Hope’s story was fictional, the story of how it came together – the Kindred Spirit mailbox – is a real thing, and that’s where the magic is.

Again, in typical Sparks fashion, the main messages of this story are about love and life. The first is that love doesn’t conquer all, and the other is that it’s never too late to follow your heart.

The first message isn’t a bitter one. Rather, it shows the complications and hardships of both love and life and what happens when one gets in the way of the other. When we’re young, we believe that love can and will conquer everything else, but as we grow into adults we discover that the world is an ambiguous place and love doesn’t conquer all. It conquers some stuff, but the other stuff kicks the living crap out of love.

“We were in love, but the timing wasn’t right. And all the love in the world can’t alter timing.”
― Nicholas Sparks, Every Breath

If love were enough, then Hope would have been able to be with Tru. But life had other plans, and at that particular moment it wasn’t possible. But this leads us to the second message: it’s never too late to fight for love or follow your heart.

“I suspect that most people harbor a lingering sense of What if I’d followed my heart?.”
― Nicholas Sparks, Every Breath

The words “what if” may be simple, but the phrase can haunt you for the rest of your life. Hope and Tru fell in love but couldn’t stay together. But later in life there was a window of opportunity where they could be together, if they fought for it. Their story could have ended when it did, but then they both would have been asking themselves What If? for the rest of their lives. And the thing is, if what they felt then was true love, then it’s never too late.  If it was true then, why wouldn’t it be true now?

“And I thought also about the love they’d always felt for each other—like stars in the daytime sky, unseen, but always present.”
― Nicholas Sparks, Every Breath

In life, we need only the courage to follow our hearts. I don’t know what a love like Tru and Hope’s feels like – love to cross oceans for, love to transcend time for. But I’d like to believe that if I ever were to feel it, that I’d have the courage to seize it, the way these two did. And to anyone reading this who didn’t or hasn’t, I hope one day that you will.

“She wanted people to know that love often lies in wait, ready to bloom when least expected.”
― Nicholas Sparks, Every Breath

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