The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks

2000. Hardcover. 339 pages. Warner Books.

From: the public library

For the challenge:

Challenge 7 of the Take a Chance Challenge: Break a Prejudice

In a nutshell:

Denise is a single mother whose five-year-old child, Kyle, has a severe language processing disability.  On a stormy night, a car accident near her new home in Edenton, South Carolina leads her to meet Taylor, a volunteer firefighter.  When they meet again in Edenton, there are sparks of romance.  However, an event from Taylor’s past throws an obstacle in their relationship.


For the Take a Chance Challenge #7, Break a Prejudice, readers are encouraged to “read an author/genre/whatever that you have always avoided and after, write about how the prejudice has been broken or reinforced.”

I chose Nicholas Sparks, mostly because I had seen the film adaptation of A Walk To Remember and found it to be overly sappy and emotionally heavy-handed.  I also had issues with the film The Notebook, but not as severe, as I am a big fan of Rachel McAdams.  Reinforcing my prejudice was the fact that Nicholas Sparks is often a punchline in the blogosphere and in popular culture overall.

For this challenge, then, I decided to complete a book by Nicholas Sparks.  (I have a vague memory of starting to read A Message in A Bottle when I was in high school.)  I chose The Rescue because – as far as I know – it has not been made into a film.  I wanted a Sparks book that I hadn’t heard much about.

The verdict? My prejudice is not broken.  I didn’t hate The Rescue but I did find it rather dull.  It had the feel of a book going through the paces.  Changes to the plot and emotional landscape were strongly telegraphed.  At the beginning of the book, Denise sadly remarks to herself that her language-impaired son Kyle has never told her that he loves her.  Well then, we all know what is going to happen near the end of the book, don’t we?  I was also bored with the idyllic small town of Edenton that was the book’s setting.  Small towns are so smarmy in fiction sometimes.

Recently, Raych at books i done read hilariously bemoaned the “attention-seeky” nature of a character’s Terrible Secret.  The Rescue has one of those.  Taylor lugs around his Terrible Secret throughout the entire book.  His firefighter buddies are all like, why are you taking all these stupid risks?  Denise wonders why Taylor gets these distant moods and why he is seeming to draw away from her.  Once in a while, it would be great if a character could have commitment issues and risk issues and have it not be so neatly attributable to a Past Event.  (Capitalization of nouns is catching.)

Has anyone ever seen the fantastic Italian mini-series, The Best of Youth? One of the things I loved about that movie was that the reasons for Mateo’s anger issues, for his estrangement from his awesome family, were never fully understood.  People’s outlook and personalities do not always have easy-to-identify origins and that ambiguity rang true for me.

To be fair, the Terrible Secret in The Rescue was more tragic than I was expecting.  And I remember there was an emotional scene near the end that did tug at me.  But mostly, I couldn’t wait to be done with the book.

The Rescue wasn’t the worst thing I have ever read or tried to read, but from this experience, I do not think I will be reading anything further from Nicholas Sparks.

Other reviews:

52 Books in 52 Weeks – “It wasn’t spectacular, and I won’t be reading it again for a while, but I did enjoy it.”

Lost in Books – “…it was my first Sparks novel and it was [chosen as a perfect beach read] because it was a love story that was also smart. It wasn’t about some dumb girl and a dumb hunk, these people were intelligent, brave, and flawed.”

Violet Crush – “It’s too cheesy. Don’t get me wrong, I love cheesy, but this is *bad* cheesy. It’s like he was trying too hard. ‘The Rescue’ lacks the easy and non-pretentious writing of ‘The message in the bottle’.”

World According to Books – “Being a mother of a child with an auditory processing disability – I was touched by Sparks’ ability to capture the emotions and essence of what it means to be a single parent of a disabled child.”


Filed under Book Review

7 responses to “The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks

  1. This is why I tend to avoid this genre (as well as thrillers); they’re so predictable. I can see why people who don’t read that much enjoy them (they don’t get supersaturated), but I can’t deal with them.

  2. Erin

    I’ve seen several people choose Nicholas Sparks books for challenges that ask them to break a prejudice or read something they’ve previously avoided…rarely are people’s minds changed. I’ve never read any of his work, and I don’t think I care to!

    • Jen

      The Notebook (the movie) effectively scared me away from Nicholas Sparks as a writer too. After reading your review, I’m fairly sure I won’t ever change my prejudice for Sparks’s writing. Thanks for confirming what I assumed! 🙂

  3. i love the challenge idea and sparks would be at the top of my list, too! my high school students are constantly raving about how great his books are and that (and the movies i’ve seen trailers for) have led me to believe that his books aren’t for me. you won’t find me mocking sparks, though. anyone who can get my reluctant reader students to pick up novels is a prince in my book!

  4. I read one or two Nicholas Sparks books in high school, to see what all the fuss was about, and I was unimpressed too. They weren’t the worst books I’ve ever read, but they were unbelievably boring.

  5. Jo

    There was a hilarious article about Sparks in the Guardian a few months ago. I read it at school and had to explain some of my outrageous outbursts of laughter.

    Here’s the articls:

  6. Lit Omnivore – I’m always on the eye out for something that’s fresh-feeling. It can be a classic or a recent publication, but there has to be something invigorating about the book for me to really love it.

    Erin – I suspected my mind would not be changed, but I at least wanted to back up my avoidance of Nicholas Sparks’ books by making a go of one.

    Jen – Yeah, you should definitely avoid Sparks if you didn’t like Notebook. I know people who generally don’t like Sparks that liked that movie.

    Nat – And then maybe when they’re older, they’ll look back nostalgically and indulgently on Sparks’ books, in a ‘I used to love those books when I was a teenager’ way.

    Jenny – Yeah, I can’t even get worked up in a negative way about Sparks, because I was just left so ‘meh’ by the book.

    Jo – heh heh. The formula is almost the same for ‘The Rescue’ except the man and the woman are not separated by forces beyond their control. It’s the man’s fault – maybe that’s why it’s the Sparks book that isn’t yet a film? But yes, true to form, someone does die at the end of ‘The Rescue.’ And in a flashback, we see one of the main character’s father die too.

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