The Best of Me, by Nicholas Sparks.
Neither one of them was able to move or speak as surprise gradually turned to recognition. Dawson's first thought was how much more vivid she was in person than in his memories of her. Her blond hair caught the late afternoon light like burnished gold, and her blue eyes were electric even at a distance. But as he continued to stare, subtle differences slowly came into focus. Her face, he noticed, had lost the softness of youth. The angles of her cheekbones were more visible now and her eyes seemed deeper, framed by a faint tracing of lines at the corners. The years, he realized, had been more than kind: Since he'd seen her last, she'd grown into a mature and remarkable beauty.
I am a huge fan of Nicholas Sparks' books, and this one was no exception, except the ending was much more sad than his usually are.
Amanda and Dawson were deeply in love and were going to move in together after high school, but Amanda's parents forbade it, since his family was from the "wrong side of town." They threatened to not pay for college if Amanda continued seeing him, so she went to Duke and they broke up. Now, twenty-four years later, their mutual mentor Tuck has died, and they both return to their small town of Oriental, and end up seeing each other again. They must decide if what they have is worth jeopardizing Amanda's marriage and home life for, and if it even IS still true love, after all of these years.
As all his novels are, this one was beautifully paced and descriptive. I had an inkling of what the (sad, but kind of bittersweet) ending would be once a few key events happened, and I was thinking "Oh no," and then it ended up playing out that way. The ending is more of a Jodi Picoult type, I thought, but it still works with the novel. The characters and their actions are all very believable, and you will finish The Best of Me in one or two sittings if you have time.
A few of Sparks' novels have been turned into movies, and I was trying to think of a few actors who could play Dawson and Amanda, but the way they are written in the book is very specific. Another of his novels, The Lucky One, features Zac Efron and will be in theaters this April 2012.
4 stars out of 5.