Updated: Dec 19, 2021
Have you ever heard people raving about a movie so often that the movie gains the status of "classic" in your mind? I mean a bunch of people you know and love give it great reviews, it pops up on Pinterest and Twitter, and Instagram, and every time you google "movies like X" it comes up! Surely, this movie must be good!
Well, The Notebook (the movie) was like that for me. Forever ago, I finally decided to watch it because I was seeing it absolutely everywhere. And honestly... I did enjoy it. Imagine my surprise to find out later that the movie was actually based on the book The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (which I bought at the library book sale) and to discover that A Walk to Remember (also a movie I enjoy based on a book) was written by the same guy.
So when I came home from camp with nothing to read and needed to catch up on my reading (so I didn't fall behind on my goal of reading 100 books in a year), I turned to these two books.
Both of these Nicholas Sparks novels are quick reads. The books (or at least the copies I read) are smaller than the average book (height and lengthwise as opposed to width) and thus, though they had around the same number of pages (give or take a few), they went by much faster. But despite this, Sparks somehow had enough space in the small books to guide the reader through the story while making them fall for his characters and deeply desire that they end up together (despite whatever kept them apart originally). I truly enjoyed reading these novels and am glad I have a copy of The Notebook and hopefully can find my own copy of A Walk to Remember in the future.
Check out more in-depth reviews of the books below:
The Notebook is certainly the more popular of the two movies (The Notebook, and A Walk to Remember) but admittedly, though I did enjoy this book, I didn't enjoy it as much as I was expecting to. I often felt frustrated when the book cut to scenes of the old man talking to the old woman as I felt they were placed in awkward spots. Just as with Water for Elephants, I did ultimately feel that the narrative of the old man and old woman in the nursing home contributed to the story and gave it a fulfilling ending but the way that was carried out was imperfect.
Another thing I really struggled with in the book was the summer romance between Noah and Allie. In the movie, the romance is shown a bit more thoroughly than the book shows this portion of the couple's overall story. In the book, this portion of the story is only briefly noted (in comparison to its importance). I felt frustrated by that. After all, if the two had not met and had a summer romance, then they would not have had the rest of the story. Given the fact that the summer romance was so briefly noted in the book, it seemed as though Noah and Allie fell too quickly in love with one another in the bulk of the story. This part was evened out a little by the way the summer romance was portrayed in the movie.
Overall, I did truly enjoy the book. I felt it was a good romance and that it did a good job of telling the story of two people from different classes falling for one another (in a more modern time as opposed to 50 or 100 years ago). I also felt the transfer from book to movie was smoother in The Notebook than in A Walk to Remember.
A Walk to Remember:
A Walk to Remember, compared to The Notebook is not quite as popular, and yet, it is still an excellent book and a beautiful film. I watched it for the first time when I was in elementary or middle school when the song "Only Hope" was being performed in the school musical. In the movie (but not the book) Mandy Moore (who plays Jamie Sullivan) sings the song in the musical she takes the lead in. It is beautifully done and both the performance of the song and the movie itself made me cry the first time I watched it and every time I have watched it since.
Unfortunately, the book-to-movie transition of A Walk to Remember was not quite as smooth as it was for The Notebook. The movie and book are both amazing but are quite different at different points. While the movie portrays Jamie's love interest Landon as being forced into helping Jamie out more so because he is caught committing a crime (and this is his punishment), the book portrays Landon as an average high school student—he is neither obviously good nor obviously bad. Before though he feels somewhat forced into the play, everything he does is by choice.
There are many other elements in the book that are quite different but ultimately I did enjoy both the book and the movie. It was one of those cases where it can sometimes be easiest to pretend the movie was not based on the book. Then one can continue enjoying both separately!
I also appreciated the way that Jamie Sullivan's Christianity was portrayed in this book. I would not go as far as to say that I loved it as she is portrayed very much as an outcast who feels she must ugly clothes and keep her hair in a bun and always obey her father. Some of her actions make her seem strange even after Landon falls for her. They don't convince the reader to suddenly convert to Christianity (after all, who wants to have to wear ugly clothes?!?). I do wish Sparks had not portrayed her in this way but had rather attributed more of her "quirks" to either the thing I won't spoil that happens later in the book or to her good deeds (the time she spends at the orphanage, the money she collects for the orphanage, etc.).
Still, the one thing I was really pleased with in this book was how Sparks did not have his characters have sex before marriage. Perhaps that's a taboo topic and if you find it too embarrassing, you are welcome to leave the page now. However, I find it incredibly frustrating when authors present their characters as "perfect Christians" or Christians very loyal to their faith and then have them sleeping with their boyfriends in the first chapter. This gives the wrong message to young Christian (or non-Christian) readers and only adds to the media that tells youth "you should be sleeping around!" only this time, it's coming from a "Christian" mouth.
That being said, though I didn't appreciate the way Jamie was portrayed overall (or how Sparks totally undid any benefit he had here by doing exactly the opposite in The Notebook) I did appreciate how Jamie was portrayed as saving herself for marriage.
10/10 for both the movie and the book. I would highly recommend checking them both out and giving the movie a chance despite the deviances from the book.