The Last Song

9 09 2009

The Last SongRonnie Miller – almost eighteen and with two strikes of shop lifting under her belt – has issues. She wears purple hair, stopped speaking to her dad three years ago, stays out late, dumped Julliard School for nothing and genuinely hates everything in life. To make things worse, her mom is sending her for summer in North Carolina. Far from her Manhattan life in order to spend time with her father.

Life can’t be more awful.

Steve Miller, a former Julliard piano teacher is living a quiet life by the beach. He can’t be anymore excited since he gets to spend summer with his children. But this occasion is soon watered down by his daughter’s bitterness and disrespect. Although he is enjoying his time with his son Jonah, completing a stained glass window he’s donating for a reconstructed church, he spends his first few days trying to connect with a daughter who despise him.

Life can’t be more complicated.

Will Blakelee is a beach volleyball player contending for the Nationals. He works for his father’s shop, lives in a mansion and is soon to move to an Ivy League. Guys want to be him and girls want him. But his two-year relationship with a shallow bourgeois girl is slowly making him jaded. He starts to look for something or someone with a deeper meaning and perhaps will accept him long before they find out his family name and his secret.

Life for our southern boy is about to change.

The story starts off in several expositions in order to get accustomed to each character. It shifts from point of view to point of view and allows every protagonist and antagonist to have their say of how things unfold. Compartmentalized in chapters and POVs, The Last Song is an easy read with a laid-back pace; save for the turning point and the chapters that followed it.

While Sparks describes the setting, it helps that you have some visual representations from Alfonso Cuaron’s Great Expectations (or any movie set on the East coast beach save Florida)I found it easy to ascertain the location especially if you have a character for a pianist, a Southern setting and a free spirited girl. At least that’s what my mind’s eye is conjuring while reading.

As I pace through Ronnie’s story, it came shallow and common given that I’ve seen and heard her story several times (both in literature, film and real life). It also doesn’t help that she is stereotyped by the black garb emos love to fashion. Will also came bland; coming off like every other mysterious rich good kid I’ve read in the past. Yet their characters gradually become engaging; like I know them from somewhere. So I stayed waiting for the story to unfold … and progress it did. From the second plot until the resolution of the story, it became difficult to put down. Somehow it fastened each character together turning a laid back approach to a fast wheeling narrative. What also came silently and strongly are the hefty portions of faith and family values; integrating it with a universal approach.

The Last Song is just like any other Sparks novel. It comes as a sleeper and slowly builds up to a complete tearjerker. I liked this book (3.5 out of 5) because it’s a nice summer story about regret, anger, secrets, betrayal and love. It would have been perfect if Miley Cyrus wasn’t playing it on a 2010 film version.

Notes:

Author Nicholas Sparks is said to have written the screenplay first before writting the novel.

Published by Grand Central Publishing

ISBN 0-446-54756-5

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