“Wherever you are in the world, the moon is never bigger than your thumb.” Chances are, you have heard the corny Dear John quote or even posted it yourself as your facebook status.
Dear John, a novel by Nicholas Sparks, is a powerful story about the impact of war on relationships. It was published on August 7, 2007 by Grand Central Publishing.
John Tyree, a young soldier on a leave in Wilmington, NC, falls in love with Savannah Curtis, a perfect college student on her spring break. The story shows the impact of 9/11 on their relationship and the struggles that follow.
Nicholas Sparks is a beloved American author. All of his books have been New York Times best sellers. He has sold over 89 million copies in over 50 languages worldwide.
Other books that Sparks wrote include: Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember (1999), The Rescue (2000), A Bend in the Road (2001), Nights in Rodanthe (2002), The Guardian (2003), The Wedding (2003), True Believer (2005) and its sequel, At First Sight (2005), Dear John (2006), The Choice (2007), The Lucky One (2008), The Last Song (2009), Safe Haven (2010) and The Best of Me (2011), and The Longest Ride (2013).
Eight of these books have been adapted into movies, totaling to almost 3/4 of a billion dollars.
“Our story has three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. And although this is the way all stories unfold, I still can't believe that ours didn't go on forever,” says Tyree about his relationship with Savannah.
Dear John is written in John Tyree’s point of view. This first-person point of view shows a different insight into John’s bond with his sick father and with Savannah. John’s father is a single parent. His Asperger’s syndrome combined with his obsessive coin collecting leads to a strained relationship with his son.
John enlists in the army to have direction in his life. While on leave, he meets Savannah, who is volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. Their relationship flourishes in the two weeks that they have together. Not only does John develop a relationship with Savannah, but he also furthers his relationship with his father. Savannah, who is studying autism in college, helps John to understand his father.
Then, the country is devastated on September 11th. John must decide between settling down with Savannah and re-enlisting. Due to a strong sense of patriotism and nationalism, Tyree re-ups. This choice puts an immense strain on his relationship with Savannah. They write letters to each other, but the notes become less frequent and less personal.
“I finally understood what true love meant…love meant that you care for another person’s happiness more than your own, no matter how painful the choices you face might be,” says John Tyree. At the end of the novel, John finally understands what it means to have a relationship with another.
The characters in this book are based off of real events. For example, the character of Savannah is named after one of Spark’s daughters. John’s last name, Tyree, was a childhood friend of Nicholas Sparks. John’s character is inspired by Spark’s cousin, Todd Vance.
“People forget the feelings in this country in the weeks following 9/11,” said Nicholas Sparks in an interview with collider.com “All the flags are flying out front. People are enlisting in droves… The exact same thing that happened to John happened to my cousin…. 9/11 hits and he says, “I’m a sergeant. These are my friends. I have to watch out for them. They’re gonna go. I gotta go. I gotta take care of them.” It was just that’s what you do.” ”
This book was adapted into a movie by Sony Screen Gems, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfreid in 2010. The screenplay was written by Jamie Linden and directed by Lasse Hallstrom.
I rank this book 3.5 out of 5 Eagles. This is a typical Nicholas Sparks novel. It is very similar to The Notebook or The Rescue, as the main characters attempt to repair relationships despite outside factors. The story is easy to read and the characters are likeable. However, the story itself is not very realistic.The biggest flaw in this novel is that it does not show how this specific war affects relationships. The way the couple reacts, it could be any war. I recommend this book to people who enjoy romantic comedies without a lot of substance.
Although the plot is predictable, the ending has an interesting twist that will leave the reader thinking.
"Sparks ends the book on an emotional positive. His message is that, though harsh and complex, love transforms us forever” said Judy Gigstad, an editorial on ReadingGroupGuides