Bourke’s Bookshelf: ‘In the name of true love’

This week's feature read, in honor of Valentine's Day, is "The Choice" by Nicholas Sparks.

Book in front of hearts
This week's featured read, in honor of Valentine's Day, is "The Choice" by Nicholas Sparks.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

Valentine’s Day is coming up, so I couldn’t help but grab the only Nicholas Sparks novel I have on my shelves and give it a read in the name of love.

Theresa Bourke headshot

What I expected was a mushy romance, and what I got was an eye-opening lesson.

OK, and a mushy romance.

The title of this one says it all. Life is full of choices and “what ifs.”

What if I had just studied a little harder for that test? What if I chose that other job over this one? What if I met that person earlier? Would my life be substantially changed? Would everything be different?


We can “what if” ourselves until we’re blue in the face, but those answers are never going to come. So instead of wasting our time and energy thinking about what could have happened, we’ve got to roll with the punches. We’ve got to take what life gives us, and we’ve got to do the best job we can.

‘The Choice’ by Nicholas Sparks

This story opens and closes with Travis Parker visiting the hospital in 2007. We don’t know why he’s there at first, but in the chapters between we get a glimpse into his life 11 years prior.

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That’s when Gabby Holland moved next door. That’s when the new neighbor, who typically kept to herself, came crashing through the hedges into Travis’ yard to berate him for his loud music and his dog running amuck. That’s when he fell in love and couldn’t look back.

But his neighbor seems a little cold. And, of course, there’s the fact that she already has a boyfriend, albeit one who seems to be afraid of long-term commitment.

Suffice to say, their relationship starts out pretty rocky. But through the instability, Nicholas Sparks does what he does best and weaves a beautiful, heart-wrenching love story full of stolen glances, subtle touches and words with hidden meanings.

I didn’t end up bawling my eyes out with this one like I did with the first Sparks work I read, “Message in a Bottle,” but there was a lump in my throat and a few tears trying to eke their way out toward the end. So if you’re in need of a good love story this Valentine’s Day, “The Choice” is a great pick.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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