A Book Review: Timeless Christian Lessons From the Classic Romance Novel by Nicholas Sparks
For years, I was content that I have watched the film based on Nicholas Sparks’s novel “A Walk to Remember”. It wasn’t until I found a social media post asking about books that made readers cry that I regained interest in reading it.
What’s different about the book?
Would I really cry? These were just some of the questions I had when I decided to purchase the classic romantic novel.
Set in 1958, the story about Landon Carter and Jamie Sullivan takes on a different period but not a contradicting theme. In fact, I think the book and the movie complement each other. Watching the film and reading the book provides people an experience that helps them gain a deeper and richer grasp of the story.
Told through the point of view of Landon, the book allows the reader to see things from his perspective. The reader sees what he sees, and I think this works most especially in the way he sees Jamie.
I love how the book is able to follow Landon’s change of heart as regards Jamie.
From being a distant and strange outcast his classmates take no notice of, Landon is able to know the person that Jamie truly is. In seeing this person, he comes full circle from being blind to being able to see everything that’s beautiful about this special girl. Isn’t love like that? One minute you’re blind and the next moment, it’s as though a whole new world has been opened before your very eyes and you could no longer take your heart away.
It’s not as though there was that one life-changing and grand moment when Landon instantly fell in love with Jamie. No, it’s not at all like that. What’s wonderful about the book is that it takes us with Landon and Jamie as they spend these seemingly ordinary moments that slowly yet effectively give the two the opportunity to realize their love for one another.
It’s that wonderful quality about love that kind of grows on you until it takes root within you, allowing you to fall ever deeper until you could no longer ignore it or turn away from it.
You don’t fall in love at once, you fall slowly and then finally, and in that final moment, you realize how it’s always been there for you. In the end, while you were looking for love, were you not actually running away from it? Falling in love is finally letting love find you.
At first, we may ignore Him or even consider His presence weird. We may not even want the world to see that we’re associated with Him for fear that our friends would avoid us.
But then these moments come when God is finally able to spend some time with us. We may feel guilty, we can be in denial, but the more we spend time with Him, the more we realize how wrong we were about Him. Finally, we admit how we love Him and we realize how He’s been there with us all along.
Going back to the book, another thing I liked about it was the way it showed how living your faith in a secular world can be a real challenge.
It was like that for Jamie. She was just trying to be nice, to be a good person. But the people around her considered her strange and unusual, a target for jokes and insults.
Maybe that’s just the way we tend to react to people who are not like us. Instead of trying to understand them, we just shrug them off and consider them as outcasts. This book can speak a lot about bullying and judging those who seem different from you.
The book was set during the 1950s and the movie during the 1990s. I wonder how the film would look like if it were remade today? How much more difficult would it be to live your faith as a simple teenager during our time? It’s not just about the temptations that abound these days. It’s that prejudice of being strange or self-righteous, of not being able to blend in and have friends at the time when you need them most.
Despite the challenges, however, I love how this book was able to depict the way Jamie Sullivan lived her life.
She simply did what she believed, bearing the judgments of other people, not giving in to resentment, staying as cheerful and as helpful as she was and trying to live a full life of love no matter her illness and difficulties.
It was Landon himself who said that Jamie was the true essence of the following Bible passage that described love:
“Love is always patient and kind. It is never jealous. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish. It does not take offense and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.”
How different indeed from the way we often describe love these days.
Today, love seems to be taken as the mere existence of “feelings” for a special person, a romantic kind of love. When that feeling wavers, love also disappears. But that is never the true essence of love.
How would it be like to meet a person who actually embodies the essence of love?
Maybe like Landon, we’d also feel guilty. We may react by just ignoring it or going away. But then again, we may finally see someone who can inspire us to be a better version of ourselves. We may see that it is still possible to be gentle and patient and to endure the many sacrifices needed so we can truly love.
This book has so many lessons to impart, and one of the things I shouldn’t forget to mention is the importance of life and the time given to us.
Quite often, we live as though we wouldn’t ever die or as though we’re certain we still have much time left. But what if we don’t? What if we only had a short time left just like Jamie? How would that make a difference in the way we live our lives?
The truth is that we don’t know how much time we have left.
And because of that, we should make the most of the time we still have. At the end of it all, what matters is that we have lived a life of meaning, a life where we have loved to the very end.
There is something about this book that makes an unforgettable impression upon me.
Perhaps it’s the message. Perhaps it’s in its simplicity. Or perhaps it’s about the characters that seemed so real you could almost touch them.
Nicholas Sparks said that out of all his novels, A Walk to Remember was his favorite one to write, the one that made him cry while writing it. This was also the one inspired by his younger sister, who, like Jamie Sullivan, was an inspiration to those around her despite her illness. She, too, had cancer, and she died in June 2000.
To us, however, who have loved Jamie and her story, she continues to live, kindling faith, hope and love within our hearts.
Before ending this review, you may be wondering if I cried while reading this novel.
And my answer would be, “No, I didn’t cry.” But that wouldn’t make this book any less valuable or worth reading.
It is not always the book that makes you shed your tears that’s worth it. You know it’s beautiful, too, if it could wipe your tears away.
(Note: I will receive an affiliate commission from Amazon for every purchase of the said book through this post.)