An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life—until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who has captured his heart. But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else. “Dear John,” the letter read…and with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives were changed forever. Returning home, John must come to grips with the fact that Savannah, now married, is still his true love—and face the hardest decision of his life.



An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life—until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who has captured his heart. But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else. “Dear John,” the letter read…and with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives were changed forever. Returning home, John must come to grips with the fact that Savannah, now married, is still his true love—and face the hardest decision of his life.

"In our time together, you claimed a special place in my heart, one I’ll carry with me forever and that no one can ever replace."
"Part of me aches at the thought of her being so close yet so untouchable, but her story and mine are different now. It wasn’t easy for me to accept this simple truth, because there was a time when our stories were the same, but that was six years and two lifetimes ago."
"I finally understood what true love meant…love meant that you care for another person’s happiness more than your own, no matter how painful the choices you face might be."
"Every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through."
"Part of me aches at the thought of her being so close yet so untouchable…"
"Even though you may not want to hear it, I want you to know that you’ll always be a part of me. In our time together, you claimed a special place in my heart, one I’ll carry with me forever and that no one can ever replace. You’re a hero and a gentleman, you’re kind and honest, but more than that, you’re the first man I ever truly loved. And no matter what the future brings, you will always be, and I know that my life is better for it."
"What mattered most was knowing that love was mine to give, without strings or expectations."
"I finally understood what true love meant…love meant that you care for another person’s happiness more than your own, no matter how painful the choices you face might be."
"And when her lips met mine, I knew that I could live to be a hundred and visit every country in the world, but nothing would ever compare to that single moment when I first kissed the girl of my dreams and knew that my love would last forever."
"I knew my father had done the best he could, and I had no regrets about the way I’d turned out. Regrets about journey, maybe, but not the destination."
"There are memories for both of us, of course, but I’ve learned that memories can have a physical, almost living presence, and in this, Savannah and I are different as well. If hers are stars in the nighttime sky, mine are the haunted empty spaces in between…"
"Two weeks together, that’s all it took, two weeks for me to fall for you."
"Right before everything went black, you wanna know the very last thing that entered my mind?...You."
"And when her lips met mine, I knew that I could live to be a hundred and visit every country in the world, but nothing would ever compare to that single moment when I first kissed the girl of my dreams and knew that my love would last forever."
- Nicholas Sparks, Dear John

Inspiration

While I’ve earned a reputation as an author who specializes in tragic endings, I want to go on record as saying that my favorite novels to write are those with bittersweet endings. I love to craft a novel – like The Notebook – in which the characters long to be together but can’t, for fate has conspired to keep them apart. The problem, however, is that such novels are exceedingly difficult to conceive, let alone write.

Why, after all, if two people love each other, can’t they be together?

A hundred years ago, stories like these were much easier to craft. Class, race, feuds and religion were “fair game,” but in the 21st century – and especially in the United States – these issues simply don’t ring as true. Yes, prejudice still exists and in small pockets of society, such issues might still predominate, but as a general rule, prejudice is frowned upon, and I strive to write novels that feel universal to the majority of people. And besides, in novels where “love is supposed to conquer all,” most readers want to believe that almost any obstacle can be overcome

What then should serve as the obstacle in the relationship? What causes the bittersweet ending? Why can’t the two people be together?

The most obvious – and relevant – reason that two people who love each other can’t be together is that one or both is already married, and they are loathe to divorce their spouse for family reasons. This was the “obstacle” that kept the lovers apart in both The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller and The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans.

Yet, I have a problem with that obstacle as well. While I know it’s real and that it happens, adultery is nothing I want to glamorize. I’ll be perfectly honest when I say that I find nothing romantic in it. Nor does my wife. And, obviously, it’s an obstacle that now lacks in originality, since it’s been overdone in both books and films.

This is where, of course, I found myself when conceiving the idea forDear John. How could I make that idea at least somewhat original? How can I make it feel universal to the majority of readers?

In the end, the twist I chose was to have the characters fall in love while both of them were single, only to have separation “forced” upon them. In this case, I chose the circumstances surrounding the horrors of 9/11 and a soldier who feels the need to re-enlist, thus continuing the separation. When he finally returns, the girl he’d once loved is now married, and hence, they can no longer be together. Lovers are kept apart because of marriage, and yet no adultery occurred.

Everything else in the story – John’s relationship with his father, Savannah’s personality, Tim and his brother, the coin collection – were elements that came later and conceived as ways to best support the story’s bittersweet ending.

In the end, I was proud of the novel. It is, in many ways, one of my favorites. It is also one that I think will resonate with readers long after the final page is turned.

Wilmington, NC

Situated on the southeastern coast of North Carolina, Wilmington is a charming port city near the Cape Fear Coast beach community. Rich in naval history, Wilmington is a modern city with so much to see and do; from a WWII battleship to a Hollywood movie production studio, cobblestone streets with horse-drawn carriages to music festivals, history museums to contemporary art galleries, elegant restaurants to welcoming nightspots, Wilmington has something for everyone. Wilmington’s thriving beach community makes it the perfect location for chance encounters between lovers – young and old – in Nicholas Spark’s beloved novels, The Last Song, Dear John and Message in a Bottle.

Directed by Lasse Halström and based on the novel by best-selling author Nicholas Sparks, Dear John tells the story of John Tyree (Channing Tatum), a young soldier home on leave, and Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried), the idealistic college student he falls in love with during her spring vacation. Over the next seven tumultuous years, the couple is separated by Johns increasingly dangerous deployments. While meeting only sporadically, they stay in touch by sending a continuous stream of love letters overseas--correspondence that eventually triggers fateful consequences.

  • Director: Lasse Hallstrom
  • Screenplay: Jamie Linden
  • Cast: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried
  • Run Time: 108 minutes

Directed by Lasse Halström and based on the novel by best-selling author Nicholas Sparks, Dear John tells the story of John Tyree (Channing Tatum), a young soldier home on leave, and Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried), the idealistic college student he falls in love with during her spring vacation. Over the next seven tumultuous years, the couple is separated by Johns increasingly dangerous deployments. While meeting only sporadically, they stay in touch by sending a continuous stream of love letters overseas--correspondence that eventually triggers fateful consequences.

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