In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would bring you a book from (in my humble opinion) the king of romance, at least for my generation! The Longest Ride is Nicholas Sparks’s newest novel, released in September of 2013 and I think it is one of my favorites. It is a sweet story about a city girl falling in love with a cowboy. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Published by Grand Central Publishing on April 23, 2012
Length: 398 pages
Reviewing eBook from Amazon
Ira Levinson is in trouble. At ninety-one years old, in poor health and alone in the world, he finds himself stranded on an isolated embankment after a car crash. Suffering multiple injuries, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes and comes into focus beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together – how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can’t possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.
A few miles away, at a local rodeo, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward -- even life and death – loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans -- a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.
Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.
What can I say?! This is Nicholas Sparks at his best! It was such a heartwarming and heartbreaking read all at the same time. I left this story feeling content with its conclusion.
The Longest Ride is set in the mountains of North Carolina and revolves around three main characters: Ira Levinson, Luke Collins, and Sophia Danko. As the reader we alternate among these character’s POV. We start with Ira and I love his introduction so much, I will let him tell you who he is:
I sometimes think to myself that I’m the last of my kind.
My name is Ira Levinson. I’m a southerner and a Jew, and equally proud to have been called both at one time or another. I’m also an old man. I was born in 1920, the year that alcohol was outlawed and women were given the right to vote, and I often wondered if that was the reason my life turned out the way it did. I’ve never been a drinker, after all, and the woman I married stood in line to cast a ballot for Roosevelt as soon as she reached the appropriate age, so it would be easy to imagine that the year of my birth somehow ordained it all.
In my head I picture some version of this:
You know Deedee’s parents from the Rugrats? Anyways, where was I? Oh! So Ira experiences a near-death accident at the beginning of the book and he nostalgically recalls his life from his parents, to fighting in WWII, to his beautiful life with his wife Ruth (who also is an ancillary character). It’s a sweet story and one that I can only hope to be my own romance with my husband.
The next character we are introduced to is Sophia. She is a senior in college, having just broke up with her narcissistic, cheating boyfriend, and is in desperate need of having some fun. At least according to her best friend and roommate who drags her out to a rodeo. Enter Luke who happens to be a full-fledged cowboy and rodeo star. Here’s what I picture when I read about his description:
Anyways, Luke comes in being the hero and basically embarrasses Sophia’s ex when he is trying to get her to leave with him despite her persistent No’s. So two people who couldn’t be more different, strike up a friendship that develops into more in true Sparks fashion.
I loved the imagery in this book. Having been raised near the Appalachia mountains I could easily picture Luke’s ranch and the beautiful winter that is described. I loved the characters too! They each were described in such detail that by the end of the story I felt these people were real and Sophia could easily be my best friend or a girl I went to college with. Probably my favorite scene in the whole book is Luke taking Sophia horseback riding for the first time. She had never been and her descriptions of the experience made me feel like I was doing it myself! Ugh, And the ending….the way Sparks brings these three characters together and interweaves their lives is something only Sparks can do! It was again heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time!
This was an easy read (I read it in one sitting) and unlike some of Sparks other works, it did not leave me feeling upset and heartbroken, rather it left me content and nostalgic. If you are a fan of Nicholas Sparks or romance novels, you will enjoy this book!