By Belinda Serrano
Nicholas Sparks. That name alone makes women of all ages swoon just a little bit over the man who single-handedly transformed the simple love story into today's modern classics.
I throw myself into that same category of women and have been fortunate enough to have read every major book he has written and published (except for his latest, "The Best of Me"--I just got it for Christmas and I'm still trying to recover!).
Thankfully, I also own half of his books and am now starting a collection of films adapted from his award-winning novels, which are also an inspiration to me as I write.
But for those skeptics of love-story novels or for who haven't read the Nicholas Sparks tales or watched the movies based on the books, let me share three of these book/films and what they have to offer.
The debut novel from Sparks, in 1996, ignited him into a place as one of America's most loved authors. When the film premiered eight years later in 2004, it would eventually serve as a catalyst to young actors like Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams while solidifying older generations' appreciation for veteran actors James Garner and Gena Rowland.
Noah Calhoun and Allie Nelson, behind the backdrop of 1940s North Carolina (the state most of Sparks' books are stationed), are faced with the obstacles of social status, distance, love, loss and commitment in their pursuit of each other as it chronicles first and young love.
But as the years pass, time, memories and age also play a role into this tale that displays true love and miracles.
As in most cases, the book and movie differ in some aspects, but the story is heart-wrenching and touching. I've had the pleasure of watching and reading The Notebook and without hesitation would recommend both of them to you.
Nights in Rodanthe
In 2003, Sparks introduced his sixth novel, which was actually his first novel to debut at #1.
The film adaptation debuted in 2008, and unfortunately, three years later, I still haven't had the chance to see it. Fret not, however, as I just got it for Christmas and while I've heard once again some parts from the movie stray from the book, I am eager to immerse myself into this movie which features familiar faces through Diane Lane and Richard Gere.
The story captures the tale of middle-aged Adrienne Willis, who through no fault of her own has been thrust into a midlife crisis of sorts. To deal and overcome, she heads to become a weekend innkeeper in Rodanthe, North Carolina and meets Paul Flanner, an older man with a broken past of his own.
With a major storm serving as the gloomy background to shattered lives, the weekend brings the two together for solace and love which brings about unexpected results for their lifetimes.
The Lucky One
2008 also introduced readers to the next Nicholas Sparks book entitled The Lucky One, a tale of a U.S. Marine who finds fortune in an old photograph while serving in Iraq.
Logan Thibault, in his third tour, finds the picture and is convinced by his friend that his string of good luck is tied into the photo. Upon coming back home, he travels across country and eventually finds Elizabeth in North Carolina.
While their attraction and love blossoms, the photo and its story remains a secret, which proves to be a threat to their relationship and their lives.
Film rights have already been sold on this book and production began in fall 2010. An April 20, 2012 release date has already been given, with Zac Efron from the Disney/High School Musical franchise taking on the much more mature role of the main character.