Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dear Mr. Sparks, You've Made Me Grumpy

Warning: I will be talking about Nicholas Sparks's newest book, The Best of Me, in this post. However, I don't plan on saying anything that you can't get from reading the inside of the cover. But, if that's too much of a 'spoiler' for you, then you may want to come back to this post after you've read the book. However, if you continue reading this post, you may not want to read the book at all.....

Let's start at the beginning.

This is me in college (I'm the one on the right):

Somewhere close to this time, I began my relationship with ole' Nicholas.
 By 'relationship', I mean he wrote and I read....everything. I've read all of his books, even after I started to realize that he essentially takes the same story and retells it over
....and over
....and over again
 with some new names and new places, but I was faithful.
 I was loyal.
I was a 'fan' in the truest sense.

Not any more.

In fact, this is me promising to never read another Nicholas Sparks book ever again.

Now that I've said it, let's discuss the why, shall we?

Well, our relationship began to go South, so to speak, when I became a mom. For whatever reason, having a daughter of my own has made me more aware of what I listen to, read, and watch. I don't want certain ideas in my home or in my brain anymore; what once seemed okay to listen to or entertain even if I didn't per say agree with it, is no longer okay.
 Being a mom is a HUGE deal and an even bigger responsibility,
and I try hard to live accordingly.
Do I still watch TV or listen to music or reads things other than devotional books?
Of course I do; I live in the same world as everyone else and my house has both the Internet and cable. 

 BUT, I am more aware of what I expose my children to and fill my head with than I was before the kiddos were part of who I am.

Simply put, what I'm trying to say here is that I don't agree with the way Mr. Sparks's characters often live out this scenario:

They meet.
They talk.
They bond.
They jump in the sack.
All in about a three day time period.

Not okay.

Phase two of our relationship breakdown occurred when I became a high school teacher. Every day I see at least one high school girl reading a Nicholas Sparks book. One of my students was reading one today in my class, as a matter of fact. So, essentially, Mr. Sparks is doing nothing to help the 'please oh please save your most precious gift until your marriage' plight that I'm trying so hard to instill in the sweet kiddos I love. Instead he's filling their precious minds with ideas that lead to confuse 'lust' with 'love'. While I realize he is by no means the only writer out there doing this, the fact that his earlier works did more to reflect Christian principles and morals proves that he CAN write books that serve as good examples of the blessings that can come from Godly versus worldly relationships.
 More on this in a minute.....

But that's not all.

The final straw for me came via this:

In this novel, Nicholas Sparks writes about an affair.
The problem does not come from his writing about it, but he romanticizes and glorifies it, making it sound like a holiday from real life and justifying it with the idea that the wife just isn't happy in her marriage.

Okay, first let me say that I'm not here to judge.
At all.

 That's in no way my intention.
 I realize that affairs have been around as long as marriage,
and unfortunately, they're not going anywhere any time soon.
I also realize that affairs are extremely hurtful and damaging for all involved.

 I have several friends who have been on the receiving side of an affair,
 and let me just say that there was nothing romantic of holiday-like about it.
We have so many things in this world that are trying to tear families apart;
we don't need any more help in that department or anyone else telling us how 'easy' and 'ok' it is.

However, I have an even bigger problem with the fact that Nicholas Sparks has appealed to the teenage audience with several of his works that feature teenagers and have been turned into movies staring popular teen actors. He even has a new one coming out soon. Having appealed to this audience, he's setting them up to be greatly misinformed. I try every single day to be a positive example for the teens I work with, and even though I sometimes fail miserable, I use every available avenue to be a good example for them. Nicholas Sparks has such a chance to make a difference in their lives. Young girls today are desperately seeking stories of romance, and he certainly delivers. But while he has their attention, couldn't he just as easily use this opportunity to promote them to live their lives in a way that honors marriage?

Even worse, in one of his earliest books A Walk to Remember, Sparks wrote with a heavy Christian influence, often referring to God and having the main character emphasize heavily how she was waiting until marriage. When I started reading his books, this is one of the main things that attracted me to them. It's not often that you find a romantic story that contains good values and sets a good example to young readers. Also, I loved the idea of a Christian man writing sweet love stories. And to this day, I still LOVE this book and the sweet message that it sends to readers of all ages.

 If you look on his website, it says he goes to church regularly.

Do I think that there's a Christian alive who hasn't sinned or who doesn't in some way give in or conform to the ways of this world in which we live?
Of course not!

However, would I LOVE to see him step up and use his status to encourage Godly relationships?
 Most certainly.

I am in no way that we should ignore affairs or that he shouldn't write about them;
my frustration comes from the fact that he romanticized it and justified in a way that I simply can't defend. He focuses so heavily on the romance part of the story, while only briefly mentioning the idea that this affair might lead to regret. I just can't believe that this is or should be true to life.....

 I'm not thinking that he should become a Christian author, but I would love to see him revert back to writing the kinds of novels that, although they may not even mention God,
 contain morally appropriate 'love stories'.

Is that really too much to ask?
I'm thinking no, it's not at all.

I honestly believed that he was above conforming to what society
has unfortunately deemed as 'popular' and 'acceptable'.

Apparently, I was fooled.

To me, an affair and a love story are generally two different things.
If he's going to have his characters make mistakes, I wish he would also portray the consequences that follow.

You too?

So, in closing:

Dear Mr. Sparks,

We are over.
Our society has enough things telling us that it's okay to do whatever you want if it 'feels right'. 
Please stop corrupting the minds of young girls by making affairs sound like anything more than the hurtful acts they truly are.
You can keep your sappy jump in the sack stories and peddle your repeated plots elsewhere.
Families are more important than lusty desires.
My daughters, my friends, my students, and I can do better.

You've proven that it's possible to write a morally upstanding, yet completely romantic, novel. I know you can do it and do it very well, so why would you ever try to fill our minds with anything else?

Praying that you'll step up and be the Christian example that I know you can be,


 And to you my sweet readers who stayed around long enough to finish reading this forever long post,
here's hoping that this post wasn't too much for you today; I know that I usually keeps things light and funny around these here parts.
 But, if I don't stand up for I believe in,
how can I possibly expect anyone else to?


  1. I don't read his books. Well any books lately. But thanks for taking a stand. :)

  2. Fantastic post. I am just the same as you. I've read almost all his books (except the new one and like 2 others). I definitely WON'T read his new one. Thank you for taking a stand. At least in Twilight, Edward took his stand...

  3. I totally agree. If we don't take a stand then we are, in a sense, approving it. Good job!


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