Is Nicholas Sparks the Godfather of the Love Story?

Monday’s post on epic love stories was a fun one to write, but I’ve enjoyed the comments section even more! Hardly anyone thinks that I’m a total dork when it comes to my appreciation for a good romantic storyline. IHGB is, and always will be, a safe place for hopeless romantics and children of the ‘80s. It’s in my mission statement.

Fast forward to yesterday. I was copied on a group email discussing the man behind a modern-day love story — Nicholas Sparks. Some think his movies are the same story told over and over again, but with different lead character names and different wayward pasts that inevitably come back to haunt them. Let the record show that I do not fall into that category. This surprises none of you, I’m sure.

My friend and fellow Entertainment Weekly colleague Maggie has spent countless hours researching. Nicholas Sparks. (Here’s her review from A Walk To Remember.) She even went as far as deciphering the key components of a Sparks movie that make countless hopeless romantics like me soak up anything he may write:

  1. Are the main characters from different worlds?
  2. Are there parents who don’t approve?
  3. Is there time spent in some sort of water-based location?
  4. Does someone die?
  5. Is there a wise old person?
  6. Do the men perform activities that require well-defined forearms?

As luck would have it, I covered Nicholas Sparks’ new novel, “See Me” for the Associated Press, which debuted this week in bookstores and Kindles across the globe. I’ve taken the liberty of providing you a sneak peek based on Maggie’s theory. Does the new book line up with what we’ve come to expect from Mr. Sparks?

Are the main characters from different worlds?
Why yes! Maria’s parents are from MEXICO. Diversify. Colin is from a privileged family, but his parents kicked him out of the house thanks to his bad-boy ways. Never fear. He’s got his act together now and wants to be a school teacher. He just has to stay out of trouble for a few years. Will he make it?

Are there parents who don’t approve?
Why yes! Colin has TATTOOS all over his body. What in the world? Maria’s parents think that he is someone their attorney daughter should be prosecuting in the courtroom—not dating!

Is there time spent in some sort of water-based location?
Why yes! Dancing, rowing a boat, building a house, standing there — these are all things that become even more interesting when you add rain. Plus, people fall in love in the rain. That’s a scientific fact. Colin and Maria meet in a rain storm, naturally. He changes her tire. CHIVALRY IS NOT DEAD ALERT! And their first date is paddle boarding. Both find the other extremely attractive in their bathing suits in case you were wondering.

Does someone die?
Why yes!

Is there a wise old person?
Old people make everything better. Exhibit A: Betty White. Sadly, most of these old people fall into the above category, but they do serve a purpose — to remind our love birds to not live a life of regret. Reach for the stars. Go for your dreams. Crash and burn if you have to, but never wonder, “What if?” The “old person” in this book is up for debate.  It’s all about where you draw the hard line for what constitutes as old.

Do the men perform activities that require well-defined forearms?
Why yes! Colin is an amateur MMA fighter when he’s not tending a bar down by the beach. He works out nine times a day, or something like that. Everyone thinks he’s hot, but they are intimidated by his appearance. Except Maria. She can see right through the ink to the beating heart beneath those impressive pecs. Bonus? He makes her feel safe. This comes in handy later when someone begins to stalk her.

The key to enjoying Sparks is that you have to approach the piece of work with an open mind.
Of the 19 books that Sparks has written about squishy love, nine have been made into movies. That doesn’t include the movie The Choice that comes out on Valentine’s Day. THE DAY OF LOVE. Or in my case, the day you go to the movie theater to check out the latest Nicholas Sparks movie so you can fuel your “romance is not dead” bucket. That’s a real thing. Trust me.

I’m a romance enthusiast who is willing to charge through another “if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” Nicholas Sparks film because I will always root for true love. Even if it’s predictable.

What do you think? Are you a Nicolas Sparks fan for the most part? Can you suspend reality and repetitiveness to enjoy his work? Or are you a once and doner? Which movie/book is your favorite? I’m a fan of Noah Calhoun — always.

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October 16, 2015 9:52 am

How are there no comments yet? I can’t believe I’m the first.

I just watched the Longest Ride a few weeks ago when the husband of the household was out of town for work (I’m waiting for him to leave again so I can watch Pitch Perfect 2 in peace.) I liked it! I’ve been a fan of Britt Robertson since the one season of Life Unexpected and The Secret Circle on the CW. I liked Scott Eastwood, duh, but I felt like he wasn’t exactly settled in to his Wranglers and boots. Don’t get me wrong, he wore them well, but as a person from small-town Texas you can tell when they aren’t second-skin on a man.

My favorite leading men in the Sparks stories are Ryan as Noah (obvi), Channing as John, and Josh Duhamel in Safe Haven. I don’t really enjoy the books – too many adjectives – but I always look forward to the movies!

October 16, 2015 10:27 am

Haha I love this post. I don’t mind if Nicholas Sparks is a bit predictable and formulaic in his writing. Forbidden romance, chivalry and well defined forearms are always worth reading about and/or watching. Happy Friday Lincee!

October 18, 2015 6:53 pm

Hi Lincee
Love this! I’m on the fence with this man. The Best of Me made me so insanely mad (in the movie) in the last 5 min that I almost got up and walked out. I also believe in the sanctity of marriage and the whole thing was really hard for me to stomach.

The books of his that i like were the happy endings. I mean isn’t that what you want from romance anyway?

October 22, 2015 1:47 pm
Reply to  Lincee

The main thing that ruined Best of Me was the fact that young Dawson and mature Dawson had different eye colors. Awful movie, awful casting.

October 19, 2015 1:09 pm

I love Nicholas Sparks! I am not up-to-date on reading some of his newer books, but I love all of his older books!

My all time favorite is The Wedding. I have read it multiple times and I just love it! The Notebook is a classic – you just have to love Noah in both the book and movie! I love how it sets up The Wedding too! I would love for Wedding to be made into a movie, however how they ended The Notebook movie, it will never happen 🙁

Katie A.
Katie A.
October 23, 2015 8:34 am

I’m a big Nicholas Sparks fan! I’ve read all his books and seen all the movies. I live in North Carolina, so I’ve been able to visit several of the places that the movies were filmed. Last year I saw Tom Welling in downtown Wilmington (he was in town filming The Choice) and might have flipped out a little! Sparks can be a bit cheesy and predictable, but who cares? It’s fun to enjoy a good romance!

PS – I really enjoyed Zac Efron in The Lucky One. Anyone else with me?

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