As much as I enjoyed this book by Nicholas Sparks I couldn't help thinking that the childhood that he and his brother recall so fondly all through the book was actually one of neglect and abuse. Their mother, in her attempts to make them tough, sounds as though she went way, way overboard. Their father was distant, abusive and resentful. It gets quite depressing in parts and anyone who is expecting a cheery round the world travelogue had better look elsewhere. The audiobook is well produced and well read, but there are annoying musical interludes at the end of each chapter. Three stars because I couldn't relate to the sugar coated reminiscenses of the Brothers Sparks.
So, let me first begin with the disclaimer that I am not a dyed-in-the-wool Sparks Super-fan as seemingly are some of the other reviewers here. Neither am I not a fan- I have read or seen the movie versions of several of his books. While well written, in general they are waaay to saccharine for my taste.
However...when I made this purchase- I thought it be OK might because it was a true story and not one of his tear jerker novels.
Had I not been in a hurry when I purchased this audio book , and had I actually read the description I would not have purchased this book- primarily because I would have realized that this is not the travel journal I was seeking. What I wanted was great tales of round the world adventures to accompany me on a long drive. Less than 1/4 of the book, (if that) discusses their amazing itinerary- (what a waste!)- instead only vague mentions are made to events and places on their journey and even then it's only a "gee whiz isn't that neat" or to regale us with some dumb Ugly American moment. Usually the mentions were only made as a "gosh that reminds me of the time when..." and then here we go diving headlong back into the sob-story Sparks...
I found this book to be an EXHAUSTING (and exhaustive!) account of every detail of the life and times of the family Sparks. Drama, death, drama, death....you get the idea. Cathartic for the author yes, entertaining for me no.
This book is a wonderful journal and family history for the Sparks children. But that is where this book should have been left, as an unpublished family memoir.
Unless you are a real Sparks junkie and just NEED to know just how he came to be the sappy novel king he is to day I think you'll finish the book emotionally drained and thinking I'm sorry all those things happened, but so what?"
Biomedical entrepreneur. Lifelong Libertarian. Yoga enthusiast.
First the good news. The author writes clearly and with a reasonable sense of observation and some humor. He also seems like an all-around nice guy. Now the bad news. About one third into the book I started feeling like that it was written to be sold as the material for a movie of the week on Lifetime, Hallmark or some other cable channel that carries sop stories. Sure enough, two thirds into the book the author explains that his books are picked up for scripts of sappy movies (e.g., the ultra-sappy "Message in a Bottle" with Kevin Costner). All told, I was expecting something with insight and depth. What I found was just a midge above trivial. The book may have been meant to tell a moving story of self-discovery, but as the author states many times, what you want and what you get are often entirely different things. Also, I have a difficult time feeling sorry for this guy no matter how hard he tries to tell us that he's led a tough life. Losing relatives is very rough, but myriad poor souls on Earth would feel blessed if that was the worst that ever happened to them.
I expected a story of two brothers resolving a life time of buit-up personal issues, using a backdrop of fascinating locations around the world. Instead, 2/3 of the story was a flash-back of their years growing up together with scant descriptions of faraway places. Of course the author had to create the background for the brothers' personalities and relationships, but that seemed to be the main story. Maybe my expectations were off-base.
I also have to say that the reader was not enchanting... a bit 'woody'. Although there were certainly interesting and clever parts to the book, overall I found that it dragged.