The Best of Me was a birthday gift from a friend of mine who knows how much I love to read. She chose romance, saying we all need to escape reality for a while. Well, this one is not a fun, dreamy escape, but it is a really, really good book.
The Best of Me reveals quite a complicated relationship between two people, whose love started as teenage romance, and is revived years ago, after several tragedies and half their adult lives have passed. Dawson and Amanda, the hero and heroine carry the story on their shoulders, each such a striking person, with a gripping current lifestory and an even more intriguing mutual history. The intricate web of people connecting and separating them is fascinating (really powerful protraits of abusers, Dawson’s mentor Tuck, Amanda’s mother, etc.) Although there are occasional places in the story where it felt as if the intensity of the story was somewhat watered down, the overall impression of the characters, events and descriptions is admirably memorable.
It is not a light-headed romance, with the certainty of a happy ending and exotic, dreamy landscapes and lavish settings. In fact, it seems to be at its best when the author tackles the complications in life — the issue of abuse, of compromising in a marriage, of time slipping past us as we struggle for everyday existence forgetting to enjoy life’s little gifts. The contrast between the lives Amanda and Dawson lead while separated (his utterly isolated one, and hers, burdened with family problems) is so well-written, and shows that you can be lonely when alone, but also when swimming in an ocean of people. The love depicted here is a mature one, not midlife crisis, and far from mushy eye-batting seductive rituals, sighs and fainting at a kiss.
Displaying a full background tapestry of what is deemed successful or as failure in life, and the common, surface-based misconceptions of both, the author truly created a couple who realize there is a huge difference between romance, sex and infatuation on one hand, and true acceptance, love and intimacy on the other.