by Kassidy Hart-Growing up around my grandmother, an active reader, and my mother, a romance fanatic, I was constantly exposed to Nicholas Sparks’ love stories. As I got older and began to expand my reading past Junie B. Jones, it was only natural for me to take on the same obsessions as the women before me.
Right off the bat, I read two of Sparks’ most popular books, The Notebook and Safe Haven. Ever since, I have kept high expectations for every novel of his. The most recent being his 2018 novel, Every Breath.
Every Breath is a “story-within-a-story,” focusing on lost love and reconciliation. It opens with an introduction to the Kindred Spirit mailbox, a mailbox on North Carolina’s Sunset beach that welcomes stories and notes from strangers to share with others. Within the mailbox is one specific story of ER trauma nurse Hope Anderson spending a summer at her family’s cottage. She finds an unexpected love with Tru, a safari guide from Zimbabwe visiting the states to find his father.
Even though the two only had a short time to get to know each other, they quickly fell in love. Yet, Hope was in a six-year-long relationship and logically saw more of a fulfilling future with her fiancé, Josh. Hope and Tru go their separate ways to live their lives but, coincidentally, meet back up at Sunset beach almost a quarter of a century later. They continue their love story right where it left off, as if there was no time spent apart.
This book was written beautifully with the inclusion of the mailbox as a mode for a story to be told. The narrator found this love story in a manilla envelope in the Kindred Spirit mailbox one day and, after realizing he needed to know more, decided to pursue the couple to get more details. With this small detail, it makes the story feel like a memoir and real.
Yet, the story itself felt a little too… unrealistic for me. First, I began resenting Hope for not following her heart and just loving Tru for who he was. He was a great guy who was well-travelled and drew sketches of her the day after a romantic night whereas Josh, her fiancé, couldn’t even put aside his ego to attend her friend’s wedding with her.
I understand long-term dating, still being with my high school sweetheart, yet, the comfortability felt with a long-term boyfriend is nothing if there is that strong of a connection with a brand-new guy. And her deciding factor is that Tru cannot give her biological children… Are you serious?! It’s 2021. There are options for that, Hope.
I also felt as if the story lasted far too long. The explanation and details seemed unnecessary, just like the timeline of the whole thing. It’s sad that Tru waited almost 25 years for Hope and when they just so happened to be at Sunset Beach at the same time, he wasn’t even sure if she was available. Hope put him in a really crappy situation and he deserved more, just as I, the reader, deserved to not use the book as a power-nap buffer.
Again, I love Nicholas Sparks and was excited to read this book when I saw it at Target. Yet, I was disappointed that it was such a stretch to create a happy ending. I don’t think every love story has to end with the two main characters getting to be together and that is probably something Nicholas Sparks should take into consideration. But, through some research, I did find that the Kindred Spirit mailbox is real and located on Sunset Beach in North Carolina. I will definitely be taking a trip there sometime in the near future to see what love stories I might find myself.
My final rating is a 4/10.