I’m always weary of reading a Nicholas Sparks’ book. You never know if a character is going to die. I usually end up in tears after I finish reading one of his books, and a little bit depressed too. Best Friend Ever feels his novels are inspiring; I just feel sad afterwards. His latest novel, Dear John, left me sobbing with tears, depressed and angry.
John is an enlisted soldier in the Army and during his leave he meets and falls in love with Savannah. Neither John nor Savannah was expecting this, but from the moment they met, both were drawn into one another. In a span of two weeks, both have declared their love with Savannah promising to wait for John to get out of the military (he is stationed in Germany).
During his time overseas, John and Savannah communicate by writing letters, phone calls, and e-mails. He visits her on his next leave where they solidify their relationship and commitment to each other. John has a little less than a year to go.
Then September 11 happens, and their world as they know it changes. Instead of leaving the Army, John re-enlist to fight for his country. Although Savannah is disappointed, she understands his reasons and is proud of him, but it doesn’t make it any easier for her. Her excitement of finally starting their life together soon begins to fade.
Until one day, Savannah sends him a Dear John letter explaining that she has fallen in love with someone else and can no longer continue her relationship with John. She is extremely sorry and never meant for it to happen, and wants him to know that she truly loved him. John is of course angry and upset.
Years go by before John sees Savannah again. His Father has passed away and in his mourning, he drives out to see her. Throughout their years apart, John has remained in love with Savannah and longs to see her face again. He’s not really sure what drives him to seek her out, but he finds himself standing before her.
We find out that Savannah is now married and her husband is sick in the hospital, dying of skin cancer. Through their interaction, it’s quite clear that both John and Savannah are still deeply in love with one another. But Savannah also loves her husband, but not in the same passionate way that she loves John.
John makes the hardest decision to walk away from Savannah and secretly donates a huge sum of money so that her husband can get the proper treatment he deserves. As John states,
“You’re married to Tim, and your husband needs you. All of you. There’s no room for me, and we both know there shouldn’t be. I love you, Savannah, and I always will … You’re always going to be the very best part of me. I’m sorry it has to be this way, but I have to leave, and you have to see your husband.”
He walks away from her to give her the life that she deserves and the life that he could never provide for her. John comes to the realization that true love means caring for another person’s happiness more than your own, and he’s willing to sacrifice his happiness for Savannah’s.
By this point I’m completely sobbing that I can barely make out the words on the page. Damn you Sparks, you did it again. I’m not sure if I agree with this ending and I’m definitely not happy with it. But I’ve always been selfish and am not sure if I could walk away like that. If I were John, I would’ve stayed and waited since her husband was on his deathbed.
It’s so tragic to me because they really loved each other and fate just kept them apart. Even at the end of this book, you know that Savannah still loves him as much as he loves her, but because of the choices that they have both made they cannot be together. I ache for them. I ache for their sadness and for the love they feel towards each other. I felt heartbroken after I finished this book.
Sparks does such a great job at taking you on an emotional roller coaster. One minute you’re feeling butterflies and tingles, the next your crushed when you read Savannah’s break up later, next you feel the nervous anticipation as John and Savannah set eyes upon each other for the first time in years. I went through it all with this book, but I still would’ve preferred them to have a happy ever after.