True Believer by Nicholas Sparks

After reading /True believer/, I remember why I always choose to read Nicholas Sparks novels during the summertime–they’re some of the only novels I can read and still put my brain on autopilot. They’re like reading a fill-in-the-blank story in a children’s reading workbook.

Meet Jeremy Marsh, New York Journalist who travels to Boon Creek North Carolina to investigate the source of ghostly lights in the local semetary. Meet Lexie Darnelle, Boon Creek’s librarian who loves her town, loves her family, loves her life, and doesn’t really need a man like Jeremy Marsh to fall back on…until he suddenly appears in Boon Creek on this fateful weekend. If you’ve ever read a Nicholas Sparks novel, you can fill in the rest without too much ingenuity.

Truthfully, the one thing I can say for Nicholas Sparks is that while he predictably fills the narrative necessity of our need to read about characters who inevitably wind up in bed together, he adds to that a more textured exploration of the comfort level that we establish in loving relationships and, I think, calls us to question whether or not this isn’t what we really want–the making dinner together in the kitchen, the comfortable, warm weight of someone’s presence on the opposite end of the couch, the soft turning of pages in the bedroom as two people, reading different books, are united in an otherwise solitary activity. In all honesty though, and I don’t say this out of any sense of prudishness, I’d love to see a novel (with the possible exception of /A Walk to Remember/) in which the hero and heroine don’t wind up in bed with one another, because I still get the feeling that having characters sleep with one another after they’ve just met discredits the deeper message he’s trying to convey about human relationships–especially romantic ones. I recall recently listening to an interview on NPR with Colin Firth about his role in “A Single Man,” and one of the things he talked about that I think really encapsulates my point is this issue that anyone can have a night of passion, but it takes months, often years, to develop a true sense of comfort with another person–something that can’t be replaced by simply having sex with someone else–and this is why we feel the loss of a significant other (usually, but not necessarily through death) so keenly) because we know that something we’ve possibly spent a lifetime building is susuddenly no longer there–the foundation for our existance seems to have been pulled from underneath our feet. WE know somewhere inside of ourselves rationally that we might be able to rebuild this with someone else, but it won’t ever look or feel precisely the same–how can it?

Of  course, my own views about intimacy color my reading of the story. Then again, maybe Sparks’s novels are just meant to be an escape artist’s dream come true, in which case I should just enjoy the story.

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