At First Sight

At First Sight CoverTitle: At First Sight

Author: Nicholas Sparks

Published: 2005

I hate you, Nicholas Sparks. What is your obsession with making your readers fall in love with the characters you’ve created and then snatching them away like that? Do you get off on making readers miserable? Do you like it when they cry and get all snotty and have to use more tissues than they should when not suffering from a sinus infection?

I’d like to say I had a hard time reading this book. I’d really like to say that, but I just can’t. In fact, I reached a point a few chapters in where I just couldn’t put it down. And that terrifies me.

I’m trying to read more this year. In order to try harder to make that a reality, I’m trying to go with reading two at a time. I’ll read a couple chapters in one book, then pick up the other to read a couple chapters, and so on and so forth. I’m also reading Stephen King’s The Dead Zone at the moment. Except that I’m not.

See, I picked up At First Sight on Saturday and started reading it. During my down times, I was doing pretty good with my two chapter rule. And then, at some point yesterday, I said, “Screw The Dead Zone.” I didn’t really mean that. So far, the King book is really good. But that’s not what I’m here to discuss.

At first I wasn’t getting into At First Sight. Those first few chapters were kind of boring. We’re introduced to this couple, Jeremy and Lexie. Jeremy’s a regular columnist for Scientific American who took a trip to a small town in North Carolina to do a story about some mysterious lights that appear in the cemetery there. During his time there, he met Lexie. They shared a whirlwind romance and fell instantly in love. And she got pregnant. And they quickly got engaged. It wasn’t because it was “the right thing to do,” it was because they genuinely felt that they were in love with each other, despite not really knowing each other all that well.

New relationships are difficult. Throw in the stresses of moving away from friends and family in New York, and Jeremy’s having a pretty rough go of it. He’s got people questioning his motives and causing him to have doubts himself. Making it more difficult is the anonymous emailer that keeps sending him messages questioning if he knows Lexie as well as he thinks he does. This causes him to grow suspicious and jealous.

The first half of this novel brought so many of my own trust issues to the surface that I grew very uncomfortable reading the words on these pages. At one point I even felt physically ill over it. It wasn’t just what was happening in the book either. I was reading it from this guy’s perspective and seeing things the way he saw them. When he grew paranoid about Lexie, I grew paranoid. What made me so sick was knowing what a hard time I have trusting people. I couldn’t help but question, is this how I’ll be in a relationship someday? Will I second guess little things that she says to me? Will I find myself checking up on her, spying on her, trying to catch her in some kind of lie of omission? I don’t want to be that guy, but it scares me to think that I have that potential. Maybe I don’t have that potential at all. Maybe I was just getting way too inside this character’s head as I read the story.

And this was just the first half of the book. I stayed up late Monday night attempting to finish it. As one conflict was resolved, another arose to take its place. And that’s the thing with Nicholas Sparks. Don’t read his stuff if you’re expecting everyone to walk away living happily ever after. He doesn’t write for the Disney princess crowd. If you need a good cry, Sparks is your man.

I didn’t finish the book that night. I tried to stay awake long enough, but with only four chapters remaining, I had to give in and sleep. But after work the next day I finished the book through tearful sobs. And just when I thought I was through crying, I would start all over again. I was calling Sparks names behind his back and telling myself it was ridiculous to cry over this stupid book. I almost threw the thing across the room.

And I know this is how Nicholas Sparks’ books are going to be. I know this. And yet, I keep picking them up and torturing myself with them. I haven’t read everything he’s written. And every time I finish one of his books, I tell myself that I’m not going to read any more of them. And then time passes and I get another one. The problem isn’t Nicholas Sparks. The problem is me. I’m the stupid one.

So you can read this book at your own risk. The first half may make you feel kind of sick. The second half may rip your heart out and drop kick it into the trash can. But I can promise you that you’ll come away from the book with difficulty seeing and breathing because your eyes will be blurry and your sinuses will have suffered some kind of nuclear meltdown.

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