Today I’m breaking my policy of never writing a negative review of a book. Yes, Dreamland by Nicholas Sparks was that bad. I’ve been a Sparks fan for decades, but no more.
He sucked me in with a plot line about Beverly fleeing her abusive marriage to a powerful guy in the middle of the night with her six-year-old son Tommie. Her husband Gary was out of town on Department of Homeland Security business. She had carefully saved money for her escape. She left with a number of disguises and just a backpack each in order to not attract attention. She had a plan to travel across country by bus to find a safe haven. She knew Gary could use the power of his position to track her down. Hell, he’d put a GPS monitor on her car.
The book’s parallel plot line was about Colby, a guy who dreamed of becoming a musician but ended up running his uncle’s farm. He has a sister Paige, who is a very talented artist. Colby decamps to Florida for a music gig. He meets the lovely Morgan, who plans to move to Nashville after college to launch her singing career. They fall in love and have a brief affair before Colby is called back home to North Carolina because his aunt has had a stroke. Where’s Paige?
Paige and Beverly are the same person. Gary and Tommie were killed in a car crash when he was a toddler. Beverly’s escape was actually Paige’s psychotic episode. Paige and Colby’s mother committed suicide, and Paige found her body. Paige has also attempted suicide multiple times including on the day Colby returned from Florida. The safe haven Beverly found was actually the home Paige shared with Colby on the family farm.
WTF? Abusive, powerful men have been falsely claiming for centuries that women who object to abuse are mentally unstable. They are typically enabled by people seeking to curry favor. Y’all know I was livid and decided to do a little digging.
I quickly discovered that the author and his wife divorced in 2015 after 25 years of marriage. Had he been abusive behind closed doors? Dunno. I was deeply troubled to read that he had restrained his young, severely autistic son Ryan to a chair for six hours until the boy was able to articulate the word, “apple.” He runs a private “Christian” school known for bullying and homophobia. The headmaster experienced so much vitriol before he was terminated that he filed a lawsuit.
Many of Sparks’ characters are based on people in his family. He has a new publisher. Hmmm.