Title: The Longest Ride
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Format: Book borrowed from the library
My rating: 3/5
Review: “We shared the longest ride together, this thing called life, and mine has been filled with joy because of you.”
The melding of two love stories (Ruth and Ira) and (Sophia and Luke), Nicholas Sparks once again tugs at the heart strings for love worth fighting for. Although predictable, I still found myself gasping at the emotions released from every turning point and revelation. Told in three viewpoints – 1st person with the aging widower Ira, and 3rd person views of Sophia and Luke – Sparks intertwined the two stories flawlessly leading up to what binds the romances together.
Sophia Danko, a senior Art History student at Wake Forest (no surprise this story is set in North Carolina) is getting by with just being present in her sorority and avoiding her cheating ex-boyfriend. Luke Collins, a bull-rider trying to keep his mother’s ranch afloat must decide what’s worth the risk – giving up riding and losing the ranch (all his mother knows) or losing his own life with numerous head injuries from riding for so many years. From different worlds, Sophia and Luke find solace and comfort in one another, both figuring out what comes next as their individual lives do not appear to merge after Sophia graduates. I found Sophia relatable to my own experiences – not just being an art history student – with her going through the motions of life but reflecting deeply on what happens next. Empathizing with Luke, I felt the weight of his assumed responsibility on trying to do what is best for everyone else and being scared of revealing the truth for fear of being forced to quit.
Ira Levinson – a widower of 10 years – is stranded in his car after he loses control on the icy mountain, heading towards his and his late wife’s traditional anniversary spot. Reflecting on their love story as he feels his life coming to a close, he wonders when he’ll be able to join his beloved Ruth. The struggles Ira endures (before, during, and after Ruth) is weighty for any one person to overcome. Each story flowed brilliantly and added together make a quick, light read.
Rich with vivid imagery of the countryside as well as deep emotions, Sparks paints a picture of how difficult love can be, but how the story always finds it’s way back to what really matters most. It is stories like The Longest Ride that allow us as readers to hope for that kind of love and wonder if things can work out as they should, but wouldn’t dream possible. I found myself wanting to focus more on Sophia and Luke’s story more so than Ira’s – as it was youthful and unfolding as the story continued. However, the memories and internal conversations Ira shares lets me imagine what 55 years of marriage could really look like – through the ups and the challenging downs – showing me that no love story is perfect but it’s what you put into it that matters.
I have read a majority of Nicholas Sparks novels and will continue to do so as sometimes we just need that hope, even though it may just be for a moment. Wondering when those moments will happen to us in real life, that moment when you can remember falling in love with someone and thinking what was life like without them.
Read The Longest Ride if you like the themes of:
- Overcoming challenges
- Coming of age
Look out for the movie adaptation in theaters, April 10th, 2015! Until then, here’s a trailer to give some visual context to the story.