Up & Coming Weekly

October 20, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 16 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM 16 UCW OCTOBER 21-27 2020 LITERATURE What do President Donald Trump and the lead character of Nicholas Sparks' latest book have in common? Hint: Walter Reed Medical Center. Both the president and Trevor Benson, the fictional main character in Sparks' "The Return," received cri- tically important treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center. Trump got expert medical care for his coronavirus. Benson, a Nav y surgeon, had his body and mind blown apart in Afghanistan. Serious head injuries, loss of sight in one eye, loss of an ear, damage to his back, and for a surgeon, the career-ending loss of fingers. These injuries plus a heav y dose of post-traumatic stress disorder made Benson a total wreck. The doctors at Walter Reed and nearby Johns Hopkins put him back together again. Their great psychiatric care moved him to become a psychia- trist himself. Maybe you remember Sparks' for- mula for his books that have sold more than 100 million copies. He creates two characters, a man and a woman, brings them together, then something separates them, and somehow they are brought back together, bringing tears to Sparks' readers. First, Sparks gets Trevor to New Bern. Although Trevor grew up in Washington, D.C., he spent youthful summers with his grandfather who lived happily in his self-built modest house, taking his boat out for trips on Brice's Creek and tending his hives of honeybees. When his grandfather dies, Trevor comes back to check on his grand- father's property and decides to stay while he is waiting to begin a residen- cy in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins. When an attractive female sheriff's deputy named Natalie stops by to check on the grandfather's house, she finds Trevor, and Sparks' magic romance begins. Trevor is smitten, but Natalie is reserved and inexplicably seems not to want to be seen publicly with him. He takes her on a boat ride along Brice's Creek where he shows her baby alligators and a nest of bald eaglets. Then he gives her an inside tour of his grandfather's honeybee operation, with a sensitive explanation of how the bees work together in different roles to build their hives and sustain their communities. Natalie is hooked, Trevor is happy, and the story seems to be over even though we are only half through the book. Sparks is not through with them. To follow his formula, something has to separate them. So, suddenly, Natalie tells Trevor she has to break away and that their romance is impossible. When she explains why, he unders- tands and sadly moves on. Then Sparks gives him another challenge to solve: Callie, a teenaged girl who lives alone in a nearby trailer court had helped Trevor's grandfather with his bees. Just before he died, the grandfather gavew Trevor muddled instructions to help Callie. Callie does not want help, but when it becomes a life and death matter, Trevor rushes to help. Without reconstructing their romance, Natalie helps him solve Callie's mystery and save her life. The story ends. But Sparks has not followed his for- mula. He brought Natalie and Trevor together and then set them apart. But he has not reunited them. At the end of the book's last chapter, Trevor is in Baltimore to begin a psychiatric resi- dence at Johns Hopkins. He reads a letter from Natalie. She thanks him for his love, but begs him never to contact her again. Sadly, Sparks does not bring his lovers back together this time. Wait. The book has an epilogue. Maybe Sparks could complete his for- mula there, but you will have to read it to find out for sure. Visit North Carolina, the state's tourism promotion office, should put Sparks on its payroll. His descriptions of the charms of downtown New Bern and the beauty of Brice's Creek made me want to close the book and rush to spend a few days there. President Trump and Nicholas Sparks' latest book by D.G. MARTIN D.G. MARTIN, Host of UNC's Book Watch. COMMENTS? Editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. *Oer valid only while supplies last. Limit one per household. Must be first time purchase. Minimum spend amount applies. Financing subject to third party credit approval. Some financing options cannot be combined with other oers and may require minimum monthly payments. All oers subject to change prior to purchase. See AmericanStandardShowers.com for other restrictions and for licensing, warranty, and company information. CSLB B982796; Suolk NY: 55431H;NYC:HIC 2022748-DCA. Safety Tubs Co. LLC does not sell in Nassau NY, Westchester NY, Putnam NY, Rockland NY. 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