As much as I love Darcy and Lizzie, and Emma and Knightley, and even Becky and Luke - though that falls more into the category of chick lit than romance - Landon and Jamie take the cake.
I first read this book towards the end of Year 11, I think. I was in my senior high school years, after I'd dropped out of conventional schooling to study via Distance Ed, and I was working at the local bookstore a few afternoons a week. Dad would pick me up from the library once he finished work (only a short walk from my job); my day was effectively books layered on more books.
It was cold, I remember, and I'd just watched the Notebook after reading the book. I slouched through the rows of books til I found Nicholas Sparks again. A Walk To Remember seemed like an okay way to fill in an afternoon.
As I settled into a cushy brown chair, wrapping my handbag and copious jackets around my knees, I opened to the first page.
When I was seventeen, my life changed forever.
Jamie and Landon's story is a beautiful one, one that reminds me of the importance of faith. I don't specifically mean faith in God, but faith in humanity. Faith in change. Jamie also has her personal faith in God, which gets her through her illness.
I love that Landon and Jamie appear to be different, and in such an unreconcilable way. You wouldn't consider that these two would be together, yet as they become closer you can see the similarities they slowly draw out of each other.
She looked exactly like an angel. I know my jaw dropped a little, and I just stood there looking at her for what seemed like a long time, shocked into silence, until I suddenly remembered that I had a line I had to deliver. I took a deep breath, then slowly let it out. "You're beautiful," I finally said to her, and I think everyone in the whole auditorium, from the blue-haired ladies in the front to my friends in the back row, knew that I actually meant it.
The afternoon fluttered away as I sank deeper into the book, fully immersing myself in 1958 Beaufort, and into the beauty of this relationship. I didn't notice much going on around me. I didn't notice my phone vibrating on my lap. In fact, Dad was standing in front of me for a good five minutes watching me read, until I closed the book with a sigh of satisfaction.
"Good book?" he said.I could only nod. I was too busy texting Belinda telling her she had to read this book.
I held her close to me with my eyes closed, wondering if anything in my life had ever been this perfect and knowing at the same time that it hadn't. I was in love, and the feeling was even more wonderful than I ever imagined it could be.
The first trip I remember taking to Brisbane with my parents isn't that long ago. (My memory is a thing is shame for me at times.) It's also a pretty fuzzy memory. I saw my first Borders bookstore, and as I wandered the shelves in crazed excitement, I came across the book. I couldn't idly walk by and not read it, could I?
It was Dad who found me again, and who noticed book in my hands."Again?"
I blushed. "It's my favourite."
He tugged the book from my hands - I let out a mew of protest - and sighed, noting the price. "Okay. Okay. But if it's as good as you say, I'm reading it after you."
"I love you, Jamie," I said to her. "You're the best thing that ever happened to me."
The film for this is good. I won't lie and tell you it's not.
It's one of those movies that should be considered in its own right. The setting, the time, and the storyline all deviated from the book far too much to be the adaption. I'd have loved it if they'd done this book as it was written, but you could tell Nicholas Sparks had a hand in the script. That made me happy.
Also, if you're a romantic fangirl like me, there's so much to squee over in the movie it's practically required viewing.
"Do you love me?" I asked her. She smiled. "Yes."
Maybe I'm the only person who follows the happy ending. You know, the one where Jamie doesn't die. I've never been inclined to think that she died. It could be the overwhelming belief I have in miracles, something that this book makes massive reference to. Nicholas Sparks seems to agree, but he also mentions it's completely open to interpretation.
I want the ending to be as happy as possible. I refuse to believe in another Atonement ending, where everyone's dead.
It was, in every way, a walk to remember.
So if you've never read a Nicholas Sparks novel, this should be your first. It might be a simple love story, but it's a perfect one. It's beautiful. It's love. Gina Biggs says it perfectly on the Redstring banner, that no matter what, love is good.
I smile slightly, looking towards the sky, knowing there's one thing I
still haven't told you: I now believe, by the way,
that miracles can happen.