“The Last Song” is one of Nicholas Sparks’ many novels and one of the most popular. It has also been turned into a movie with Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth. I’ve only read it two or three times, but it’s one of my favorites and it’s definitely one that will get you right in the heart.
The story is told as a flashback of sorts. It starts off after Ronnie’s father (spoiler alert!!!) dies and her mom is there to bring Ronnie back to New York after the funeral. Ronnie tells her mother about how she didn’t want to be there at first because she hated her dad and what (she thought) he did to their family, about the boy that she met and fell in love with, about the trouble that she got into (through, really, no fault of her own), and how she learned more about her father and about herself.
Ronnie starts out as a rebellious teen who doesn’t want anything to do with her family. She and her brother go to spend time with their father at his request (which we find out later was because he found out that he had cancer and not much longer to live so he wanted to reconcile with them and make up for lost time). On her first day in town, she meets some teens that aren’t really the best people and starts hanging out with them. Eventually, she tries to break ties with them because one of them, Marcus, creeps her out and tries to get with her, but when she says no, he gets mad and sets out to get her back for it.
She had already gotten into trouble back home, but when she breaks ties with her new group of friends, Blaze (who’s real name is Galadriel, and yes, it is a Lord of the Rings reference), who was dating Marcus, sets Ronnie up and gets her in trouble there also. Eventually, Blaze comes to her senses (after an accident during one of their shows with a fireball) and confesses that she set up Ronnie and gives the police information about another incident that had happened in the town. Ronnie doesn’t have to go back to court, and she doesn’t have to stay in town if she didn’t want to.
While all this is going on, Ronnie meets a local guy named Will. He’s from one of the more wealthy families in town. As a result of their social differences and some other incidents that happen through the summer, they break up and get back together. Eventually, they go their separate ways, but to Ronnie’s surprise, Will transfers to a college in New York so he can be closer to her.
Now that we’ve gotten the basic recap out of the way, I can say that this is one that hits me in the heart every single time I read it. If you’ve read it, you know what part I’m talking about. It really hits you when you’ve had someone close to you die of cancer. The first time I read this, I was surprised by what happened with Ronnie’s dad (obviously) and I most likely cried because the pain of losing that family member was still too fresh (never read a book or see a movie that has a character with cancer in it. I’m looking at you Charly). And even though I’ve read it a few times, it still gets me everytime because of that experience.
I love how it has the experiences with the aquarium and the turtle eggs. I’ve only been to the beach twice in my life (though I don’t know if the one in Oregon can really count since it’s not warm), so I’ve never gotten to experience seeing turtle eggs hatch or seeing turtles in the wild. But, from the descriptions in the book make it sound like a really neat experience. I’m also fascinated with aquatic life and I would love to work in an aquarium some day.
I love how Ronnie feels like she needs to do something for her father to make up for how she’s treated him and everything that she’s done to him while she was staying with him. She knows how important it is to him to have the window for the rebuilt church finished and so she does what she can to get it finished. She also finds the sheet music of the song that he was working on and struggling with to finish. When Ronnie first arrived in town, she told her dad that she wasn’t going to play the piano for him since she was mad at him and the piano had been something that they shared when she was younger. And with him already struggling to finish it and not being able to have a chance to work on it in the hospital, Ronnie decides to finish it for him and she takes down the wall that he had built because she said that she didn’t want to see or hear the piano any more. She brings back a part of herself that she had wanted to get rid of in order to redeem herself with her dad.
I love how this is a story about love and family and doing what you can to make up for lost time with your family. And it’s about being honest with yourself and with your family. This is a good book to read if you like Nicholas Sparks and figuring out who you are.