Monday, July 28, 2008

Sam's Letters to Jennifer

Sam’s Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson is a thoughtful romantic novel. It was an endearing and hopeful love story and made a cynic like me believe in true love.

The book is about a woman named Jennifer whose Grandmother Sam falls into a coma. Jennifer rushes to Lake Geneva to be by her Sam’s hospital bedside. While at her Sam’s house, she discovers a stack of letters addressed to her in which Sam narrates her loveless marriage and how she found true love.

Jennifer’s husband died about a year ago and she is clearly still mourning his passing. Now with her best friend in the hospital, she feels her world is crumbling around her. And then she finds the letters and discovers her Grandmother’s secret. Her Grandfather married Sam under false pretenses and Sam had resolved herself to a life without real love. Until she meets Doc and she is so full of love, but must always keep it secret.

While reading Sam’s letters, Jennifer finds herself slowly falling in love with Brendan, her childhood playmate at the lake. The impossible has happened; Jennifer has opened herself up to love again only to find out that Brendan is dying of a brain cancer. She has learned to love once more and it could be taken away from her in one heartbeat.

This story pulls at my heartstrings and yet it is so simple and full of hope. My favorite part is when Sam wakes up from the coma and meets Brendan and says to him, “So why have you given up hope? How can you leave someone as special as Jennifer without a fight?” Finally someone is voicing what I have been thinking for years! I believe a lot of relationships fail because people aren’t willing to fight for the relationship. It’s a lot easier to walk away from someone than it is to stay together and work at the relationship. Even with all the love that Brendan feels for Jennifer, he was going to have this one summer and then die. But Sam’s words made him want to fight for something more than just a summer regardless of what it might cost him.

I did wonder why Sam never left her husband even after he showed his true colors, but I guess there wouldn’t be much of a story to tell. I love the idea that Sam wrote these letters to Jennifer to give her an insight into her life and also into Jennifer’s. As Sam writes,
“Right now, I’m thinking about love: the hot, crazy kind that turns your chest into a bell and your heart into a clapper. But also the more enduring kind
that comes from knowing someone else deeply and letting yourself be known … I
guess I believe in both kinds of love, both kinds at the same time and with the
same person.”
That’s what Sam had with Doc and what Jennifer finds with Brendan.

While I found some similarities between Patterson and Nicholas Sparks, I absolutely was not depressed or saddened by Sam’s Letters to Jennifer. In fact, I felt more inspired and hopeful that a deep, blazing, caring genuine love does exist out there. You just have to be open to it and know when to fight for it. As Sam says, “Love never dies.

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