Narrators: Ron McLarty and January LaVoy
Run Time: 13hrs and 12 minutes
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.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I swear up one side and down the other than Nicholas Sparks is NOT a romance writer. So imagine my dismay when I saw that his newest book was nominated as an audiobook in the romance category for the Audies…yes, I was seriously shaking my head…and my ambivalence continued as I started to listen. I don’t need to say a lot about the plot though because the jacket copy seems to do a pretty good job of describing the basic gist of the plot (which is a personal irk..but oh well).
I enjoyed the flash-back method used to tell the story, especially since it wasn’t chronological flash-backs, but rather event driven. I also enjoyed trying to figure out how Luke/Sophia and Ira’s paths were going to cross, I had the one figured out, but there were a couple of other tiny strings that also criss-crossed through-out the story.
I will admit that I was sucked into the story, both Ira/Ruth’s and Sophia/Lukes and I thought that the chosen narrators did a really good job. Both of them (Ron McLarty and January LaVoy) fit their main characters (Ira and Sophia) perfectly. However, I think I would have preferred to have Luke voiced by Ron, rather than January, because it was a bit disconcerting…but that is just me. The production was really well done.
My biggest gripe (for lack of a better word), is that I am so used to having something really bad happening at the end of a Sparks book, that I just kept waiting for something bad to happen. As the end approached, chapter by chapter, POV by POV, I kept waiting for something bad to happen to Sophia/Luke. I guess because of what happened to Ira, the author didn’t feel the need to screw with Sophia/Luke’s happy ever after. And I will admit that I loved the twist at the end, the whole art collection thing was kind of cool and I learnt a lot about contemporary American art while listening (although, I will admit that art still isn’t my thing)…