Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Last Song

The Last Song is my first Nicholas Sparks novel. I had seen The Notebook, but had avoided his books after reading a few preachy pages of A Walk To Remember. To the overwhelming joy of my students, a stack of Sparks' novels were just donated to our school. I decided to check one out and see if it merited the dreaded "Grade Nine Only" label.

The novel follows Ronnie, a New York rebel that is sent with her brother to spend the summer in North Carolina with their estranged father. Ronnie begins as a snotty teen who flies off the handle constantly. Eventually, though, she meets a sweet boy named Will and learns that there is more to her father than she thought. The plot of this novel is extremely predictable, but still enjoyable. I think that my students will be enthralled by the possibility of finding love with a kind, wealthy, athletic, smart, sensitive (the list goes on) boy on the beach. Why not? I wish that for them!

One thing I remembered as I read this novel is that I love when stories are told from the perspectives of multiple characters. The Jodi Picoult novels I've been perusing have done the same thing and it really amps me up as a reader. Another interesting fact is that this novel was developed in conjunction with the film, starring Miley Cyrus. Maybe I am being snobby, but I had a flicker of disappointment that the book was created just so there could be a movie. I quickly got over that by spending some time laughing at the extremely detailed wikipedia page.

As for the "Grade Nine Only" label, I am still up in the air. The main characters are very chaste and moral, but some of the pastimes of the secondary characters are controversial. There are also more than a few references to Ronnie's "tight little body" (a bit gross, knowing that Sparks wrote the book with Cyrus in mind). Knowing that my incoming eighth graders are a pretty young bunch, I am inclined to keep it for the older students only.

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