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January 19, 2013

Weekend Reviews: Sparks creates the perfect spark

If you enter the library of any high school in America, chances are the number of books listed under the author “Sparks” will far exceed many others in the fiction section. Nicholas Sparks has written 17 books, and I’m sure will have two finished and ready to be published by the time this column is printed.

Sure, that last statement was a bit of an exaggeration, but Sparks’ wild popularity is not. Starting with the adaptation of Sparks’ book “Message in a Bottle” into a film starring Kevin Costner, Robin Wright Penn and Paul Newman in 1999, the Sparks phenomenon has done nothing but spread like wildfire — one that has lasted more than 10 years, sold about 80 million books and grossed nearly $600 million worldwide in box office sales.

If you didn’t realize it, a lot of money has been made, all thanks to Nicholas Sparks, who is a genius at tugging at the heart strings and formulating romances that women, old and young, hold out for and pine over.     

I asked 20 girls, ages ranging from 15 to 20, what their favorite Sparks story was, why they so enjoy his work, and why they believe so many others do the same.

With more than half the votes, the favorite Sparks story was “The Notebook” which tells the tale of Noah and Allie, who fall in love in a South Carolina town during the summer in the 1940s. The story is a classic “Romeo and Juliet” tale: Allie is the daughter of an affluent couple visiting for the summer, who disapprove of her relationship with Noah, a poor local boy, despite the passionate connection between the two.

Noah and Allie split, and neither hear of the other for years until Allie sees Noah’s photo in the newspaper, showing the beautiful house he had fixed up, just like he had promised Allie he would before they went their separate ways.

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