Nicholas Sparks is synonymous with true love stories. From his first novel, The Notebook published in 1996, to today, 15 love stories on – 8 of which have been adapted onto the silver screen – Sparks has touched many readers with his tear inducing tales of love and life. His latest novel, The Longest Ride is no different.
The Longest Ride shares two parallel stories that are juxtaposed against one another is perfect balance. The first focuses on Ira, a ninety-year-old widower who is stuck in his car after careering off the road. In his pained state his deceased wife Ruth appears before him in the passenger seat and together they reminisce about their past.
The second story centers around Luke, a young bull-rider who lives and works on the family ranch. At a bull riding competition he meets the young college student Sophia and their immediate chemistry is undeniable.
Once again Nicholas Sparks does here what he does best, creating relationships that are deep, meaningful, and of course not without struggle, However, unlike many Sparks novels, this one is not lead by big events but instead is simply lead by two strong love stories and how they enfold.
The juxtaposition of these relationships gives the story its depth as each one fills the gaps of what the other is missing. The pace of the novel very much mirrors the pace of the characters lives and at first you may be tempted to skip straight to the juicy bits of exciting young love as Ira and Ruth’s story is slow to build. However, as Ira reminisces further and more detail of his life and his marriage are revealed, you are completely drawn into the intensity and emotional roller coaster that a life long love entails.
Sparks is a master storyteller but I have to say that, for me, he really outdid himself this time. The manner in which he tells Ira and Ruth’s story is absolutely beautiful and had me in tears (note to self: don’t read Nicholas Sparks on the bus!). I was utterly compelled from start to finish and look forward to seeing whether the movie can translate that heartfelt love story onto the screen with the same sensitivity that Sparks does on the page.