The Best of Me (novel)
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|Publisher||Grand Central Publishing|
The Best of Me is an American romance novel, written by Nicholas Sparks.
While working on an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana, Dawson Cole is nearly killed in an explosion. He has a vision of a young woman while floating in the water. In the hospital, the doctor tells him he should have been killed from the fall alone. He survived in the water for hours. The next day, Dawson returns home after twenty years when he learns that his surrogate father, Tuck Hostetler has died. Tuck has a final wish he wants Dawson to carry out. When he arrives, Dawson is surprised that Tuck also arranged for Dawson's high school girlfriend, Amanda Collier, to join him. Tuck's intention was that Dawson and Amanda might rekindle their former romance. However, Amanda is now married.
Dawson, born into a notorious criminal family, committed petty crimes during his youth, mostly because he feared his family's retaliation. After being beaten by his father as a teen, he left home and moved into Tuck Hostetler's garage. Tuck, a local mechanic and recently widowed, forged a lifelong relationship with Dawson.
Dawson and Amanda fell in love after she deliberately disconnected the battery for her car so Dawson could fix it. They dated despite her wealthy parents' objections. After graduation, Dawson forced Amanda to choose college over staying with him because his father (Thomas 'Tommy' Cole) and brothers (Abee and Theodore 'Ted' Cole) swore revenge on Tuck for taking Dawson and shooting out the windshield, headlights, and fog lights of his truck. On prom night, Dawson's father and brothers came to Tuck's house and beat him badly. Dawson, realizing he'd forgotten Amanda's corsage, returned with his cousin Bobby and Bobby's pregnant girlfriend, April, to find Tuck bleeding. Dawson, in a fit of rage, goes to his old house with a gun, along with Bobby (who tried to stop him). There he got into a scuffle with Tommy and the gun went off, killing Bobby. In order to get a shorter prison sentence, Dawson leads the FBI to his family and testifies against them in court. Dawson received an eight year sentence. Amanda visited him every day for a month and every week for a year, but he never wanted to see her.
After twenty years have passed, Amanda and Dawson meet with Tuck's lawyer and learn that they are to scatter Tuck's ashes at a cabin he owned with his wife. They have lunch and discuss their plans. Dawson learns that Amanda befriended Tuck in his last few years of life. Amanda and Dawson talk while having dinner together in Tuck's house and they confess their love for each other. While at the cabin, Amanda's son Jared calls to go on a trip with his friend Mikey and she consents.
After Amanda leaves to go home, Dawson meets Bobby's ex-girlfriend April who tells him that Aaron, her son with Dawson's cousin Bobby, was getting into trouble because he was hanging around Tommy, Abee, and Ted. Dawson goes to his childhood home to get Aaron and return him to April, but gets into a confrontation with Tommy. He manages to get Aaron and leaves. That evening Amanda realizes that she still wants Dawson and calls him, but his phone goes to voicemail and she leaves a message. A little earlier Dawson confessed his love for Amanda in a letter in which the last line reads, "Amanda you bring out the best of me." That night Amanda's mother (Mrs. Collier) came by her house to inform her that Jared was in an automobile accident and had damaged an artery in his heart; he was in dire need of a heart transplant or else he would die. At that same time as Dawson is leaving, his brothers try to kill him by trying to push his truck (with their truck) in front of a moving train. When that doesn't work, Ted gets out a gun and tries to shoot him, but Dawson tricks him into shooting Abee instead; then knocks Ted out with a piece of iron. While Dawson is calling the police/sheriff and volunteering to bring them to the station, he hears someone say, "Dawson Cole" and when he turns around, he sees his father with a rifle. Before he can say anything, Tommy shoots him in the chest. Back at the hospital Jared is being rushed into emergency surgery as they found a heart for him. A few days afterward Amanda, April, Aaron, and a few others attend Dawson's funeral. Amanda goes back to the house and finds the letter Dawson wrote to her and, upon reading it, realizes that Dawson was in love with her still. One year later Amanda is divorced from her husband, Frank, and is working with abused kids; Jared is in college. The book ends with her receiving a call from Jared in which he reminds her of his doctor telling him that a year after his heart replacement surgery he could put in a request to see from whom he had received his new heart. Jared told his mother, "He was thirty-nine when he died. He was from down South like you. His name was Dawson Cole. Do you know him?". Amanda replied. "Yeah, I did." Jared then said, "Cool, next time I come home can you tell me about him?" Amanda said, "Yes I will."
Awards and nominations
According to Denise Garofalo, 'it transforms into a predictable yet depressing tale that is rushed and transparent and that suffers from cliche and a somewhat anticlimactic ending'.[this quote needs a citation] Laura Santana stated, "It fulfills every desire they have to swoon and be shocked."
- Sparks, Nicolas (2011). The Best of Me. Little, Brown Book Group.
- Sparks, Nicolas (2014). Top 10 Books. Publisher Weekly.
- Santana, Laura (October 11, 2011). "Book Review: "The Best of Me" By Nicholas Sparks". Neon Tommy News Highlights.