• 39°

One on One: President Trump and Nicholas Sparks’ latest book

By D.G. Martin

What do President Donald Trump and the lead character of Nicholas Sparks’ latest book have in common?

Hint: Walter Reed Medical Center.

Both the president and Trevor Benson, the fictional main character in Sparks’ “The Return,” received critically important treatment at Walter Reed.

Trump got expert medical care for his coronavirus.

Benson, a Navy surgeon, had his body and mind blown apart in Afghanistan. Serious head injuries, loss of sight in one eye, loss of an ear, damage to his back and, for a surgeon, the career-ending loss of fingers. These injuries plus a heavy dose of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) made Benson a total wreck.

The doctors at Walter Reed and nearby Johns Hopkins put him back together again. Their great psychiatric care moved him to become a psychiatrist himself.

How then is Sparks going to use Benson as the lead in one of his heart-rending romances?

Maybe you remember Sparks’ formula for his books that have sold more than 100 million copies. He creates two characters, a man and a woman, brings them together, then something separates them, and somehow they are brought back together, bringing tears to Sparks’ readers.

First, Sparks gets Trevor to New Bern. Although Trevor grew up in Washington, D.C., he spent youthful summers with his grandfather who lived happily in his self-built modest house, taking his jerry-rigged boat out for trips on Brice’s Creek and tending his hives of honeybees.

When his grandfather dies, Trevor comes back to check on his grandfather’s property and decides to stay while he is waiting to begin a residency in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins.

When an attractive female sheriff’s deputy named Natalie stops by to check on the grandfather’s house, she finds Trevor, and Sparks’ magic romance begins.

Trevor is smitten, but Natalie is reserved and inexplicably seems not to want to be seen publicly with him.

He takes her on a boat ride along Brice’s Creek where he shows her baby alligators and a nest of bald eaglets. Then he gives her an inside tour of his grandfather’s honeybee operation, with a sensitive explanation of how the bees work together in different roles to build their hives and sustain their communities.

Natalie is hooked, Trevor is happy, and the story seems to be over even though we are only half through the book.

Sparks is not through with them. To follow his formula, something has to separate them. So, suddenly, Natalie tells Trevor she has to break away and that their romance is impossible. When she explains why, he understands and sadly moves on. Then Sparks gives him another challenge to solve: Callie, a teenaged girl who lives alone in a nearby trailer court had helped Trevor’s grandfather with his bees.

Just before he died, the grandfather gave Trevor muddled instructions to help Callie. Callie does not want help, but when it becomes a life and death matter, Trevor rushes to help. Without reconstructing their romance, Natalie helps him solve Callie’s mystery and save her life.

The story ends.

But Sparks has not followed his formula. He brought Natalie and Trevor together and then set them apart. But he has not reunited them. At the end of the book’s last chapter, Trevor is in Baltimore to begin a psychiatric residence at Johns Hopkins. He reads a letter from Natalie. She thanks him for his love, but begs him never to contact her again. Sadly, Sparks does not bring his lovers back together this time.

Wait. The book has an epilogue. Maybe Sparks could complete his formula there, but you will have to read it to find out for sure.

Visit North Carolina, the state’s tourism promotion office, should put Sparks on its payroll. His descriptions of the charms of downtown New Bern and the beauty of Brice’s Creek made me want to close the book and rush to spend a few days there.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” Sundays at 3:30 p.m. and Tuesdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. The program also airs on the North Carolina Channel Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and other times.

FOR MORE COLUMNS AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, CHECK OUT OUR OPINION SECTION HERE.

Lifestyles

River Town Christmas events planned in Columbia

Crime

Fugitive wanted in Richmond apprehended in Currituck County

Lifestyles

Santa Claus is coming to Manteo

News

Investigators look into two bodies found on Fort Bragg

Crime

Pursuit leads to two arrests in Currituck County

News

North Carolina store owner cited for discouraging masks

Crime

Police: 18-year-olds charged with assaulting couple at North Carolina mall

News

Lon Adams, Slim Jim jerky recipe creator, dies of COVID-19 complications

News

Lowack elected KDH Zoning Board of Adjustment chair; board hears from two exemption applicants

News

Virtual meeting on Rodanthe Bridge set for Thursday

Currituck

4-H project book training set

News

North Carolina to get 85,000 initial Pfizer COVID vaccine doses

News

Thirty-seven additional positive COVID-19 test results reported in Dare

Crime

FBI searches for ‘Too Tall Bandit’ suspected in 16 bank robberies

News

US appeals court rules judge wrongly halted NC voter ID

Hyde

Food box distribution Thursday for Hyde County

Lifestyles

WinterLights: Holiday displays bring a decade of cheer

Lifestyles

Free health screenings for those in fishing industry

News

State and local COVID-19 case count update; additional COVID-related death reported in Dare

News

2017 ban on local LGBT ordinances ends in North Carolina

News

Additional COVID-19 death reported in Bertie County

Crime

Deputies: Woman shot man, robbed store in North Carolina crime spree

News

Criminal record, sentence changes among new North Carolina laws

Currituck

Currituck 4-H program helps with weekend meals for students in need