Opening Line: My name is John Tyree. I was born in 1977, and I grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina..."
You can always tell you're reading a great book when you find yourself skipping ahead into the final chapters to see how things will be resolved, even though you've vowed you wouldn't. Love doesn't always have a happy ending (especially when it comes to a Nicholas Sparks novel) and this is a wonderful, albeit tear-jerking romance.
Our hero John grew up with a silent, meticulously organized father that he didn't understand. In his teens he began to rebel, hanging out, playing pool and drinking. This continues for a number of years with John working menial jobs, getting several tattoos and going nowhere fast. Eventually John decides its time to grow up and he joins the army. In fact it's during 2 weeks leave that he first meets Savannah, diving into the ocean to rescue her sinking purse. Savannah is your stereotypical good-girl; raised in a stable family she's kind, pretty and hopes to save the world. It's also love at first sight for our couple despite the warnings from her tattoo phobic college friends. Together the pair plans a future together, counting down the days until John's discharge as Savannah helps him understand his father and he in turn feels contentment for the first time in his life.
On Sept 11 everything changes as John in a moment of patriotic loyalty chooses to re-up in the army, putting a hold on their marriage plans while he enters the war in Iraq. The two try to maintain a long distance relationship but the war changes John and the years apart put a strain on their deep love. When John's father grows ill he returns home but will he be too late to save both his relationship with his father and the love of his life?
I fell in love with John's character and surprisingly his father too. Each is well written and they felt like real people. I also enjoyed reading about John's military career and the reasons that take men into a war. Savannah as the heroine was a little too perfect for me but their heartbreaking love story and the regret that they both share will keep you up into the wee hours, and leave you wondering about John long after you've finished reading its bittersweet ending.
Another great read from Nicholas Sparks that I would definitely recommend. Oh, and John if you're out there, I'm single...