Longest Ride, The

Nicholas Sparks
Ira Levinson is in trouble. At ninety-one years old, in poor health and alone in the world, he finds himself stranded on an isolated embankment after a car crash. Suffering multiple injuries, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes and comes into focus beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together - how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can't possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.A few miles away, at a local bull-riding event, a Wake Forest College senior's life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward -- even life and death - loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans -- a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he's keeping doesn't destroy it first.Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2017-03-18
I’m not sure what made me return to The Longest Ride after abandoning it last October. I’m pretty sure my finger slipped on my Kindle while I was about to choose another book. But for some reason, I picked up where I left off, and this time around, I really enjoyed the book.

When I had started the story last year, I was really invested in Ira, the old man who drove into a ditch after a snowstorm. My heart broke, thinking of the pain he was in and hoping that someone would reach him in time. Ira’s wife Ruth appears to him while he is struggling to stay alive, and together they reminisce about the past. This was absolutely beautiful, but after numerous chapters of this, I lost interest. The story wasn’t really moving forward. Similarly, after the really hot scene where Luke rescues Sophia from her stalker ex-boyfriend–I really loved that scene–I became less and less invested in them as a couple. It seemed like nothing was really happening besides them riding horses on the ranch.

Something changed when I continued reading the book this time. Maybe I just needed a break from these characters. In any case, I found myself caring again, especially about Luke and his dilemma.

I have to say that I don’t look at the elderly the same way after reading this book. While walking through the airport recently, I saw an old man, short, with bushy eyebrows, wearing a flat cap like I pictured Ira wearing. And my heart really went out to him.
I wondered if he felt invisible like Ira did. If he was still married to the one he loved or if he was alone. Where he was going and if there would be happiness or tears at the end of that journey.

That’s one of the marvels of well-written fiction: it changes your perception of those around you and makes you more sympathetic.

Good read.
Reviewed: 2017-01-29
Though I was definitely touched by the end, Ira and Ruth's love story just didn't have the impact of Sparks' other stories, mostly because Sparks has come more and more to rely on the plot contrivance of ghosts/spirits/hallucinations/whathaveyou. Their whole conversation in the car seemed completely contrived.

And Sparks may be a hack romance novelist, but he has given pretty solid advice about how to craft good stories. But he chucked many of those guidelines out the window for this one. I'd say there is at least 100 pages worth of content that could have been edited out of this book. It has no greatness like "A Walk to Remember" because he writes the same sentence five times throughout the story, instead of telling me something actually new, something that advances the plot and conflict.

It also feels like Sparks went out of his way, but not really, to address common criticisms—that all his characters are Christian, that they are all white, etc. Now he wrote about a JEW! Oh boy. Real different. Way to go. AND he mentioned a JAPANESE PERSON and had his characters eat SUSHI! Wow. My mind is blown with these acknowledgements of other cultures. Not.

Overall, a decent Sparks book, but nothing magical. It will perhaps touch your heart, but it will not make your heart race or break.
Reviewed: 2016-02-06
Wow. There are no words to describe how amazing this book was. Ira was a great man and loved his wife so much. I wasn't sure how Sophia and Luke's love story was going to intertwine with Ira and Ruth's, but it was a spectacular way to tie them all together. The ending was the best and I had a few tears in my eyes, but this story just warmed my heart.
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