The Return review: A dreamsque romance by Nicholas Sparks

International bestselling author Nicholas Sparks throws open doors to heartachingly soulful love story with The Return. Trevor Benson, the protagonist, is quite like the most of us — a pawn in the hands of destiny, who returns to a largely dilapidated property with an aging slightly tilting barn and a honey shed. Trevor inherits the property, and the secrets it holds.

So, what really brings him to North Carolina — a mortar blast in Afghanistan that brings his career to a screeching halt or a fateful tryst with what feels quite like love? As time progresses, Trevor finds himself at crossroads.

On one hand, Trevor’s visit to his grandfather’s place makes him look at life from a fresh perspective whereas on the other, it unfolds a web of mysteries — love, included. Throughout the book, the author makes multiple references to bees, that make a great deal of sense as the story unravels.

On the other, there’s Callie, a youngster, who happens to know a lot more than she speaks about Trevor’s granddad’s untimely demise.

Amid the chaos, Trevor finds him calm in the most unexpected quarters — in the company of a frustratingly distant young deputy sheriff, Natalie Masterson. While it’s instant attraction for Trevor, Natalie chooses to take her time before she decided to know the “convalescing physician and disabled veteran by profession” — as Trevor aptly puts it in chapter one. She’s strikes a perfect balance between getting Trevor hooked without disclosing her feelings for him. Natalie and Trevor go on dates, and a large chunk of the book encapsulates the heady feeling that one experiences as they prepare for that much-cherished date.

Things get complicated as Natalie and his friendship blossom into something deeper, yet clasped by situations beyond their control. While the young deputy clearly shows interest and enjoys Trevor’s company, she prefers secrecy over anything else. Her eyes linger on his for a beat too long on multiple occasions, yet something feels out of place. Why is Natalie staunchly against being seen with Trevor or being mistook in public as a couple?

Isn’t that a red flag in itself? Trevor gets an off vibe, but goes ahead anyway. And, that sets the tone of the narrative.

As the plot deepens and the story unfolds, one thing is certain, Trevor’s visit to North Carolina was destined. The man has lessons to learn, with forgiveness and unconditional love being some of the main ones.

From letters unsent to words never said, Trevor battles heartache as he copes with PTSD from the traumatising mortar blast. Sometimes, being in love feels like standing on a building ledge. You might find your safe harbour in the arms of someone that truly deserves you. But, like most things in life, there are no guarantees. Natalie’s last letter to Trevor is sure to leave you feeling heavier than you ever did, with emotions best felt than spoken about.

Lastly, the book, according to me, gives its readers an important takeaway that fairy-tale endings aren’t always what tick. Sometimes, as Natalie puts it, “It’s remaining faithful in sickness where love really shines.”

Book: The Return

Author: Nicholas Sparks

Publisher: Hachette

Pages: 368

Price: Rs 399

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