If you are a fan of movies like The Notebook (who didn't bawl their eyes out reading and watching this - come on be honest!) Dear John and Message in a Bottle, then The Best of Me from the same author Nicholas Sparks is sure to please.
The story centres on the enigmatic Dawson Cole who has escaped a deeply troubled family history in a small North Carolina town. Against his better judgement, he's forced to return to farewell his old mentor, the only person in the town who ever gave him the time of day, and unbeknownst to him, his mentor's last gift is the arrangement of an unexpected reunion between him and his first and only true love Amanda. Although from a wealthy family who gave her the best start in life, the adult years have brought Amanda her own troubles, an alcoholic husband and the death of a child to name a few.
Dawson and Amanda are no longer young, but after twenty odd years apart, this chance meeting proves to them that the love they once had is easily awakened, and fight it though they might, it remains hard to ignore.
It becomes readily apparent that their mutual friend, Dawson's mentor, Tuck has used his passing to bring about this collision of worlds, knowing just how special their relationship had been, and giving them another chance to re-write their past.
But even now, events outside of their control will threaten the reunion. Amanda struggles internally with her responsibilities as a mother and wife versus pursuing her own happiness, and once they get wind of his reappearance, Dawson's down-and-out family are hellbent on taking their revenge on him at all costs.
There are a number of minor character's stories woven through the book which add some real depth to the story, and the final third of the book picks up an incredible and gripping pace with so many twists in it, that I was left breathless turning pages with my heart in mouth wondering just how things could possibly all work out.
I simply won't spoil the ending for you, suffice to say that unless you are a very hard nut, you will find yourself (at the very least) with tears in your eyes, in wonder at how the hearts of Dan and Amanda will be indelibly entwined forever.
The movie is also being released in NZ on 30 October, starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan.
The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks is published by Hachette NZ and is available from 9 September.
Thanks to Hachette NZ for the review copy.
Disclaimer: I was given a copy of The Best of Me in exchange for my review. I am not being compensated in any other way.