Whenever you pick a Nicholas Sparks book, you know what to expect. Dollops of love, hope, and dreams, a tinge of sadness, and lots of tears. Every Breath is no different. Here we have Hope Anderson, a 36-year-old trauma nurse, spending a weekend in her family holiday home in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to attend her best friend’s wedding, and also to ready the cottage for sale. She’s going through a rough patch lately with her father being diagnosed with a progressive neurodegenerative disease, and her uncertainty about her on-again, off-again relationship with her boyfriend of six years, Josh, an orthopaedic surgeon. She decides to use her time at the cottage to mull over some difficult decisions of her life.
Enters Tru Wall, a 42-year-old safari guide from Zimbabwe, who’s dealing with issues of his own. He’s at an opulent beach house next to Hope’s, on an invitation from a man who claims to be his biological father. Divorced father of a 10-year-old boy, it’s his first trip to the US. His only mission on his trip is to learn more about the early life of his mother who died in a house fire when he was only 11 years old.
As luck would have it, Tru and Hope meet, and develop an instant liking to each other. Over cups of coffee, long walks, quiet dinners and glasses of wine, they share their stories, and fall in love with each other. In the meanwhile, Tru’s biological father reveals shocking truths about his family’s past, while Josh calls Hope in an effort to take their relationship forward. Against the backdrop of these developments, both Tru and Hope realise that they have to confront reality now. While Tru is keen on making everything possible to be able to stay with Hope, it is Hope who’s in a dilemma. For, one of her life’s biggest dreams has been to be a mother. With Tru, she knows it is impossible owing to a medical condition he suffers from. She’s torn between her personal happiness and her feelings for Tru. Finally, they decide to part ways, and that one decision leaves the two of them devastated.
Obviously, the story can’t end here. It’s Nicholas Sparks. He will not leave us, readers, feeling let down. So, we meet Tru and Hope again, after a quarter of a century, and learn about the course their life has taken. Hope is divorced now, and her children are on their own. Tru has had a life-threatening accident, but is doing fine now. But, does the true love they shared for each other, many, many years ago, still sparkle? If yes, does it have the power to bring them together, across continents? Well, it’s for you to find out.
Coming two years after Two by Two, Every Breath is sure to take you on a tissue-clutching emotional ride. Though not as impacting as his earlier novels, especially The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Nights in Rodanthe, and Two by Two, Every Breath makes for an interesting read because of the author’s gift for portraying human emotions in words like no other. Consider this exchange: “I can’t force you to stay with me,” he whispered. “As much as I want to, I can’t. Nor will I try, even if it means that I’ll never see you again. But I would like to ask something of you.” “Anything,” she whispered. He swallowed. “Will you try to remember me?”
The book is peppered with moving dialogues such as the above, even as one query seems to haunt the curious tug between dreams and destiny — “why does love always seem to require sacrifice?”
The most interesting peg of the book is, however, Kindred Spirit, a mailbox that exists for real on a secluded part of Sunset Beach in North Carolina, where anyone can leave letters about anything — be it pain, dreams, hopes, aspirations — for others to read and share.
In the author’s own admission, Tru and Hope’s story was inspired by this mailbox. Get a copy, and let Every Breath take your breath away!