Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2011/11/best-of-me.html
The Best of Me is the story of Dawson and Amanda - young love destined to last forever. She is from the "right" side of the tracks. He is from the "wrong" side of the tracks. They come together as teenagers, are forced apart by families, and reconnect many years later. It would seem like a typical Nicholas Sparks story from the sound of it.
Except that it's not. Added to this story is a mix of drugs, alcohol, violence, and some truly unsavory characters. That is completely unexpected in a Nicholas Sparks story and not in a good way. The appearance of characters like Ted and Abee is jarring and out of sync with the tone of the Dawson and Amanda's love story. It is like reading two different books.
The story is also melodramatic - accidents, alcoholism, guilt, injuries, threats, violence, ghosts, forgiveness, retribution. The different aspects do not fit well together to make a cohesive story. The ending, while not completely predictable, goes over the top in drama.
Perhaps the idea was to venture beyond the typical Nicholas Sparks story of family and love. Unfortunately, the shift from that focus is so great that it may leave fans of Nicholas Sparks wondering why the best of Nicholas Sparks is not found in this book.