Reviewed by Wendy Lipke
Nicholas Sparks is a wonderful story teller and the presentation of the words on the page makes his stories even more readable. Breaking the text up into readable paragraphs and the extensive use of dialogue to provide the reader with much needed information about the protagonists makes the reading a pleasurable experience. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to plough through a page packed with words to try to read a story. Obviously Sparks is aware of this and ensures the reading experience is a relaxing and enjoyable one. Evidence of his success is that he has published twenty novels and two non-fiction books. Several of his novels have become international bestsellers, and eleven of his romantic-drama novels have been adapted to film all with multimillion-dollar box office grosses.
His latest book is again one of human emotions, primarily of love, duty, fulfilling deep desires and supporting those experiencing debilitating illnesses.
The idea for this book, Every Breath, his twentieth novel since beginning writing in his teens, came from his visit to Bird Island in North Carolina where he had been told to look for a mailbox called Kindred Spirit. Having been there since 1983, this mailbox belongs to no one and everyone. Anyone can leave a letter or postcard and any passer-by can read whatever has been placed inside. Over the years people have used this mailbox to download their deepest desires, hopes and burdens, and in so doing this mailbox has become an emotional release to troubled souls. One letter Sparks read began with the statement: ‘The destiny that matters most in anyone’s life is the one concerning love’. This whole idea of the mailbox is a lovely concept and it plays an important role in the story that follows.
I sometimes wonder where authors find the names for their characters. Every Breath is a story about Tru Wall, a divorced father of one and a safari guide who grew up in Zimbabwe. He is a loner, having left home at an early age. He grew up never knowing his biological father, but with a domineering grandfather who was a ruthless businessman. Before her death, in a house fire when Tru was eleven, his mother had married and had other children to whom Tru never felt close.
Hope Anderson, on the other hand, belonged to a loving family and her two sisters were both married. Hope who is single and in her mid- thirties wonders if it will ever happen for her. The long term relationship which she is in with Josh seems to have stagnated. Hope has always wanted to experience motherhood and time is running out.
Tru and Hope met when both found themselves at Sunset Beach, Northern Carolina. Hope had a girlfriend’s wedding to attend and also needed to ready the family holiday cottage for sale. Tru had been sent an airline ticket from a man who said he was his father and they were to meet at Sunset Beach for the first time.
The coming together of Hope and Tru seemed to be the most natural thing in the world and the feelings it generated, though shared for such a short time, were to last a lifetime.
What was the part that the Kindred Spirit had to play in the lives of these two soul mates? This is a very satisfactory hook on which to hang the story.
The author has used his own experiences on a trip to South Africa in 2010 to increase the richness of this story as most of his novels are set in North Carolina where he himself has found the off season windswept beaches a wonderful place for introspection or healing. In this novel Sparks has used the literary device of self-insertion as bookends to this classic story of lovers long denied. His own personal experience with Kindred Spirit and his search for the story behind what he had read, I believe, is a pleasing addition, to the story which his experience generated.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel as it seemed very in tune with a normal lifestyle and therefore more believable. I would recommend this book Every Breath and this author to all readers of fiction.
By Nicholas Sparks