As different from his quiet father as fire from water, John Tyree enlists in the Army for a fresh start and an escape from the awkward situation at home. Working his way up the ranks, John comes home to Wilmington, North Carolina out of obligation rather than a genuine desire to see his father. On one such leave, John happens to be in the right place at the right time as a young co-ed’s purse is knocked into the ocean and he rushes to assist the “damsel in distress”. So begins his relationship with Savannah Lynn Curtis, who is in the area building homes for Habitat for Humanity.
Despite the short duration of their stays in town, John and Savannah feel drawn to each other and are quickly spending every free moment together. Savannah is young, at times naive, and attached to her family, while John is old beyond his years and accustomed to short, meaningless flings. Their differences aside, both are swept away by their feelings and find themselves declaring their love for each other as the few weeks of their stays wind down. Savannah promises to write and wait for John to return from his tour of duty and they count down days to his next leave and his discharge from the Army. Then September 11th happens…
John is torn between the duty to his country and his desire to go home to Savannah, and hopes that she understands his ultimate decision to re-enlist. Savannah is initially supportive and the couple begins another countdown to John’s new discharge date, but the distance only exacerbates their differences and creates rifts they may not be able to cross.
Dear John was the first Nicholas Sparks novel I’ve read, and I immediately understood the appeal of his writing. He writes with an understanding of the passion and urgency two people feel when they fall in love and made me feel invested in the story at hand. I blocked out the outside world and turned page after page, eager to know what happened to John and Savannah and hoping for a happy ending despite the cliche such an ending would represent.
Dear John is an easy and compelling read, and one that may surprise you and defy your expectations.
Dear John, the movie, will be in theaters on February 5, 2010.