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Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks




Ira Levinson is in trouble. At ninety-one years old, in poor health and alone in the world, he finds himself stranded on an isolated embankment after a car crash. Suffering multiple injuries, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes and comes into focus beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together – how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can’t possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.

A few miles away, at a local rodeo, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward -- even life and death – loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans -- a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.





 About The Author

As a child, Nicholas Sparks lived in Minnesota, Los Angeles, and Grand Island, Nebraska, finally settling in Fair Oaks, California at the age of eight. His father was a professor, his mother a homemaker, then optometrist's assistant. He lived in Fair Oaks through high school, graduated valedictorian in 1984, and received a full track scholarship to the University of Notre Dame.

After breaking the Notre Dame school record as part of a relay team in 1985 as a freshman (a record which still stands), he was injured and spent the summer recovering. During that summer, he wrote his first novel, though it was never published. He majored in Business Finance and graduated with high honors in 1988.

He and his wife Catherine, who met on spring break in 1988, were married in July, 1989. While living in Sacramento, he wrote his second novel that same year, though again, it wasn't published. He worked a variety of jobs over the next three years, including real estate appraisal, waiting tables, selling dental products by phone, and started his own small manufacturing business which struggled from the beginning. In 1990, he collaborated on a book with Billy Mills, the Olympic Gold Medalist and it was published by Feather Publishing before later being picked up by Random House. (It was recently re-issued by Hay House Books.) Though it received scant publicity, sales topped 50,000 copies in the first year of release.

He began selling pharmaceuticals and moved from Sacramento, California to North Carolina in 1992. In 1994, at the age of 28, he wrote The Notebook over a period of six months. In October, 1995, rights to The Notebook were sold to Warner Books. It was published in October, 1996, and he followed that with Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember (1999), The Rescue (2000), A Bend in the Road (2001), and Nights in Rodanthe (2002), The Guardian (2003), The Wedding (2003), Three Weeks with my Brother (2004), True Believer (2005) and At First Sight (2005) all with Warner Books. All were domestic and international best sellers and were translated into more than 35 languages. The movie version of Message in a Bottle was released in 1999, A Walk to Remember was released in 2002, and The Notebook was released in 2004. The average domestic box office gross per film was $56 million -- with another $100 million in DVD sales -- making the novels by Nicholas Sparks one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood.

The film rights to Nights in Rodanthe, True Believer and At First Sight have been sold, and Nicholas Sparks has written the screenplay for The Guardian, though he has not offered it for sale at this point.

He now has five children: Miles, Ryan, Landon, Lexie, and Savannah. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and children.

His ancestry is German, Czech, English, and Irish, he's 5'10" and weighs 180 lbs. He is an avid athlete who runs daily, lifts weights regularly, and competes in Tae Kwon Do. He attends church regularly and reads approximately 125 books a year. He contributes to a variety of local and national charities, and is a major contributor to the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame, where he provides scholarships, internships, and a fellowship annually.





My Review:

This is one book that I never wanted to end; from the beginning to the end it was great. The story is based on a romance lasting over 60 years, and another just beginning. You will wonder what they in connection, although I thoroughly enjoyed Ira and Ruth’s long relationship, all of its twists and turns and great passion.
When the story begins with Ira in a precarious position, he lost control of his car and has gone through the guide rail and hanging down a hill. The weather is horrible and he is badly injured, but with his life hanging by a thread, his beloved Ruth spends time with him. It appears he is delusional, but oh how wonderful the story is as they spend time with each other.
Another young couple has a chance meeting at a rodeo. Luke is a bull rider, and Sophia is a senior at Wake Forest. To make a long story short, Luke becomes Sophia’s knight in shinning armor when he comes to her rescue as her former boyfriend is accosting her. You wonder what a rodeo feller and an art major will have in common, and how possibly can the two stories have any thing to do with each other. As the story unfolds, will be amazed, and love how these stories do finally meld together.
One starts back prior to WWII and the lasting results that the war has on their relationship. How I loved being in that car with Ira and Ruth, here she has passed on, but she is scolding him. So sweet! He shares with us his mind pictures of Ruth throughout their lives, down to what she was wearing on that particular day.
Coming off her break up Sophia is not ready for a new relationship, but meeting Luke seems to have changed that. Can it be real, or a rebound romance? While I love the spark between them, I kept waiting for something to happen to Luke. This book is a real page-turner, you will not be able to put it down until you are done and know the answers to a lot of questions.

I received this book through Readers Favorite, and was not required to give a positive review. 

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