“Everyone wanted to believe that endless love was possible. She’d believed in it once, too, back when she was eighteen.”
In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply, irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.
Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental for the funeral of Tuck Hostetler, the mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance. Neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives. As Amanda and Dawson carry out the instructions Tuck left behind for them, they realize that everything they thought they knew—about Tuck, about themselves, and about the dreams they held dear—was not as it seemed. Forced to confront painful memories, the two former lovers will discover undeniable truths about the choices they have made. And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead: Can love truly rewrite the past?
“Life was messy. Always had been and always would be and that was just the way it was, so why bother complaining? You either did something about it or you didn’t, and then you lived with the choice you made.”- Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me
“It was a life, she eventually concluded, that had been lived in the middle ground, where contentment and love were found in the smallest details of people’s lives. It was a life of dignity and honor, not without sorrows yet fulfilling in a way that few experiences ever were.”- Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me
“Being together isn’t about a honeymoon. It’s about the real you and me. I want to wake up with you beside me in the mornings, I want to spend my evenings looking at you across the dinner table. I want to share every mundane detail of my day with you and hear every detail of yours. I want to laugh with you and fall asleep with you in my arms. Because you aren’t just someone I loved back then. You were my best friend, my best self, and I can’t imagine giving that up again… You might not understand but I gave you the best of me, and after you left nothing was ever the same.. I know you’re afraid, and I’m afraid too. But if we let this go, if we pretend none of this ever happened, then I’m not sure we’ll ever get another chance. We’re still young. We still have time to make this right…We still have the rest of our lives.”- Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me
“Everyone wanted to believe that endless love was possible. She’d believed in it once, too, back when she was eighteen…”- Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me
“Dawson, like Tuck, was one of those rare people who could love only once, and if anything, separation had only made his feelings grow stronger. Two days ago, that realization had been disconcerting, but she now understood that, for Dawson, there had been no other choice. Love, after all, always said more about those who felt it than it did about the ones they loved.”- Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me
“Don’t take my advice. Or anyone’s advice. Trust yourself. For good or for bad, happy or unhappy, it’s your life, and what you do with it has always been entirely up to you.”- Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me
“She turned to face him. ‘What were we thinking?’ ‘We weren’t,’ he said. ‘We were in love.’”- Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me
“But just like love, fear often arrived when it was least expected. And for her, it visited a second time, arriving with a simple phone call, and she knew with certainty there had never been anything worse.”- Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me
Inspiration for The Best of Me
When I set out to write this novel, I knew I wanted to focus on middle-aged characters—people in their forties who are really beginning to confront the “what-if” questions, and who are starting to second-guess the choices they made when they were younger. For Amanda, this is asking herself what would’ve happened if she married the man she loved rather than the someone else?
I actually first used a funeral to bring old friends together in an old, unfinished manuscript, but I used it again in The Best of Me because it was a natural fit with these characters. When someone dies, it really prompts those what-if questions—it makes you look long and hard at the life you are living in a way that I think is essential to Amanda’s and Dawson’s growth throughout the book. With these big questions in mind, the story began to develop in my head and, eventually, on the page.