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The Last Song    by Nicholas Sparks order for
Last Song
by Nicholas Sparks
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Although his critics dismiss his novels as sentimental slush, Nicholas Spark's numerous fans believe no one has mastered the modern love story like this North Carolina novelist.

The Last Song is the latest of Spark's bestsellers. Billed as a 'compelling drama of family dynamics', which is just another way of saying we are dealing with dysfunctional people, this work's focus is Veronica 'Ronnie' Miller, a seventeen-year-old who is going to have to work through her parents' divorce to discover some sound relationships.

Three years after their split, Ronnie is still bitter, angry and alienated from her parents, especially her father. Her dad has left New York City and moved to a small beach community in North Carolina. Since her mother has decided the adolescent girl and her younger brother should spend some quality time with their father, they are sent south for the summer.

At the outset Ronnie rejects the overtures made by her father to reestablish their relationship and she wants to return to the big city. Upon meeting a local boy that idea is put on hold. Of course, the vulnerable youngster falls in love and heartbreak follows.

This summer coming of age story covers all the bases - first love, the love between parents and children, love on the verge of self-maturity - and, as the author's previous works have done, it underscores what could be called Spark's Credo. Deeply-felt relationships are both a boon and a bane; they can break hearts and heal them.

Many of Sparks' novels are eventually made into movies but The Last Song is probably setting a record for this crossover. The Disney production of The Last Song with Miley Cyrus in the lead is set for release in early January of 2010. Something tells me the initial film production was finished and it was in the editing stage before the novel ever hit the bookstores!

If you are wondering where I fall on the Sparks' register of readers I have to admit I'm not a big fan but once in a while he does provide a nice change of pace. That's what this novel is. It's not going to win any awards but it is a fast read and there are less talented writers out there writing this kind of novel. And, if you're stuck in the airport for a few hours, and want something not too demanding you could do a lot worse!

2nd Review by Lyn Seippel:

Seventeen year old Veronica 'Ronnie' Miller and her brother Jonah are spending the summer with their dad in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Ronnie's dad is a concert pianist who once taught at Julliard in New York. He and Ronnie were close, but she can't forgive him for leaving. She hasn't spoken to him since her parents' divorce three years ago, and hates being forced to visit him.

Ronnie meets Blaze on the beach the day they arrive. Blaze lives on the beach with Marcus, whose only income is panhandling. Marcus makes Ronnie uncomfortable, but she likes Blaze and doesn't want to give up the one person she found who might become a friend. She also meets Will. Clean cut and polite, he doesn't interest Ronnie.

Ronnie's defiant nature has gotten her in trouble at home in New York City. In Wrightsville, her talent for finding reckless, rebellious friends puts her in danger again. Her dad's reaction to her risky, headstrong behavior isn't what she expects. Ronnie finds getting to know her dad again is painful and tender. Meantime, Will and Ronnie begin a relationship. She knows it's only a summer romance, but she can't help but hope for more.

Ronnie's summer is spent learning how to love and trust her dad again. With Will she finds a relationship she wishes would last forever. This sweet love story might break your heart.

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