Book title: The Choice
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Genre: Fiction, Romance
Total read time: 9 Days
My Recommendation: Strongly Recommended
My Rating: 8/10 (a 4 out of 5-star equivalent
[Spoiler Alert — Do not read unless you’ve already read the book]
For the first half (or part) of the book, the book follows narratives of the two main characters: Travis Parker and Gabby Holland. Gabby who recently moved into the neighborhood with her beautiful Collie (also the cover of the book) Molly finds herself immediately annoyed with a long-time resident veterinarian, Travis. The books begin with young Travis who loves adventures especially stories told by his father, which also hints on him secretly wanting a family of his own (or at least be a great father just like his father). The narrative then moves to the present where we are quite unsure what to expect as a man (Travis) is seemingly tired and troubled with a choice he has to make, or at least questioning his choices that led to the present events.
The first half then explores the love story in the making. The laid back Travis is hanging out with his friends all of whom are married with their own children while he remains single (the women pestering him on his love life). Travis hasn’t thought much about love itself, he has been in relationships and would like to have a partner he’d spend his life with like his friends but haven’t seen her yet. Until he met Gabby Holland.
Gabby’s narrative enters as she is trying to make herself comfortable in Beaufort with her beautiful canine companion Molly. The reason she moved there is that it was close to where her boyfriend lived. She recently graduated and was now working (and adjusting) at a child’s clinic. She thinks her married male co-worker his hitting on her, but she doesn’t know how to kindly decline him without seemingly looking for trouble or cause a scene as a newbie. She chose her career path because she wanted to be independent, but despite insisting that her choices were independent of her mothers, it seems that her choices were indirectly influenced by how her mother had brought her up. She admires her father and felt that she was a disappointment to her mother as she didn’t possess the feminine, house maker qualities like her mother.
Gabby and Travis meet when Gabby suspects her precious Molly is pregnant and pins the blame on Travis for being a careless “dog owner” who she gets the impression as a wild party animal. She decides to confront Travis one night but is soon to be swept off her feet (literally) as a slightly tipsy Travis accidentally throws a ball at her direction for his dog, Moby, to catch.
Not knowing what hit her, Gabby is unable to find her cool (and confidence) as things turn for the worst. Travis invites her over and she unknowingly begins her rant from her dog to her whole life story and boyfriend. Travis, whom she is surprised to have been kind and listening intently never interrupted.
Gabby realizes she has trailed off, blames Travis’s dog once again and doesn’t give Travis a chance to explain himself. Instead, Travis suggests that she brings Molly to the vet to make sure she is really pregnant or maybe she had an infection. Gabby is still stubborn, she knows her dog is pregnant and she knows it’s his dog’s fault. He must take responsibility.
Meanwhile, Travis’s sister Stephanie appears and off the bat knows that he is smitten by the lovely new lady. The following day Gabby brings her dog to the vet, only to be put to shame by the fact that Travis is the vet. Furthermore, she receives another mental slap in the face when he tells her that Moby can’t be the father of Molly’s pups because he was neutered.
Feeling embarrassed, Gabby apologizes and tries to avoid him since then. Faith doesn’t seem to like her idea because it seems that at every opportunity they get, they happen to bump into each other especially when Gabby realizes that Molly has given birth with complications she comes knocking on his door for help.
Although she is grateful, Gabby feels her ego is bruised as well as feeling this weird (what do you call it? L.O.V.E) feeling bubbling in, which she tries to shake off as she is convinced that she loves her boyfriend. Travis tries to be friends with her, and maybe more by inviting her over. They go over a weekend adventure with his friends which leads to a realization that they are attracted to each other even as Gabby tries to fight it.
As they close to the second part of the book, Gabby makes the decision to break up with her boyfriend and marry (or choose) Travis. The second part reflects on all the choices they’ve taken since then, all the happy memories they’ve been through and then finally the present where we find out Gabby is in a coma, and Travis blames himself for her state after a series of choices he reflected on and how things could have been different.
As Travis is close to making the biggest decision that would determine the next set of events, we see a raw narrative of something we may or may not have experienced but wish wouldn’t hopefully happen. Travis chooses not to honor Gabby’s wishes of removing her feeding tube after three months and he chooses to keep visiting her at a nursing home until she wakes up four months later.
Before I begin, I would like to clarify that this review is my opinion and not everyone may agree. It shouldn’t be a basis on whether you buy any book for that matter. Approach a book with an open mind and mentally prepare yourself to be sucked in. You’ll notice that most of my future reviews would be in the more positive spectrum than the lower spectrum. This is because I do not judge the book buy it’s cover and let the book draw me in. Each book is unique and unless a book is really that bad, I’ll probably think likewise – again, to each his own.
There’s something I also like to do whenever I’m checking if a person is actually reading what I write or paying attention to something I say. By the end of each blog post there’s a secret word or phrase. Can you guess it before you reach the very end? Now grab a pen or paper. Write any word or phrase that “pops” while reading this far. Now continue reading and see if you got it right in the end.
Okay… so now for my actual review:
Although I’ve head about Nicholas Sparks and his famous books and movies like the Notebook and Dear John, I never actually got the opportunity to read them. I’ve watched Dear John, and I believe I saw snippets or gifs of the Notebook, but have yet to read the stories. I know for the movies alone that his books are sad, and I prepared myself as I tiptoed on the counter of my local bookstore, debating on whether I should have got the ebook instead.
To be fair, I would have finished the book in approximately 4 days. I was about 75 percent done around four days, but being the scatterbrain I was as well as other unfortunate events and the holidays clashing, I have taken nine days to finish this good book instead of one sitting.
As for my comments on the book, I rated it as an 8/10 because although it was a really great book, there were some parts when I got lost. I was amazed that I actually remember certain details but was confused at some parts especially the ages and the time frame. An example would be the gap between their kids and their marriage. They’ve been married for eleven beautiful years, had two daughters who were two years apart: Lisa (6) and Christine (8). In one of the chapters I can’t pinpoint at the moment Travis mentioned the marriage was quick, as soon as they got married, Gabby was pregnant with their first child. At first, as I read this I was so confused because it didn’t add up, but now when I think of it, it does make sense. In the earlier chapters, their ages were mentioned but I was also lost when Travis was telling himself he was forty-three, not seventy (something). Why am I paying attention to the ages or time? I have no idea. The book itself jumps from different time frames, seemingly like watching a movie, am I complaining? No. I liked it. It’s just that I don’t understand why I was focusing on the relevance of time. Normally I’d read teen fiction or characters who are at least in their twenties. As I’ve entered my twenties myself, I’ve acquired a taste for maturity, or at least my eyes have been open to reading older themes or characters who were at their thirties like Sophie Kinsella’s books or as of recently James Patterson’s book like The Lake House.
As for the question that Travis poses throughout the book, what will you do in the name of love? What choices have you regretted? What choices would you change? I think that’s a good question to think about. I myself thought about the choices I’ve taken and the path I’ve walked.
If I was persistent with my writing and continued to write for a living, would I have been a Best Selling Author like Sparks or my other favorite authors? Or would I have been a laughing stock from my parents who don’t see the relevance of my writing? If I’ve chosen to be a teacher instead of a counselor would I have married a teacher? Would I have loved my job as a teacher? If I stayed as a counselor or use my human service degree to help people will I meet my future husband abroad? If I’ve studied somewhere else would the events that led to my life today ease my anxieties? Would I have been a better daughter or negligent?
Although this book didn’t leave me in tears (quite surprisingly) it did bring me enlightenment, it was also one of the most kilig (Filipino term for the feeling of giddiness or happiness at the thought of love). I really loved Gabby and Travis’s love story, which I’m glad Mr. Sparks spent 220 pages developing their beautiful love story as well as the occasional flashbacks and the present moment. Although I don’t believe in love, I like the idea of being in love with the idea of love. I wouldn’t know what it is or how to react if it came knocking on my doorstep, but reading stories like these makes me believe that true love probably does exist. I love how Travis really loves Gabby, from the moment he saw her, how Mr. Sparks describes his character. Travis loved his wife so much that he clung onto hope even as everything seemed to be against him, even as there was little chance for Gabby to survive, even as it was against his promise. I love how Travis clung onto that little hope and continued to believe that one day Gabby would make up. Life isn’t always a living fantasy, sometimes we face trials at least once in our lives; our faith will be tested and when there are faith and hope especially in God and Jesus anything is possible. I’ll leave my review at that, knowing that I hopefully gave this book the review justice. Comment down below if you would say something different or otherwise.
QUOTES I LIKED FROM THE BOOK (Note it’s quite a lot)
“Travis always told her she was beautiful, and he’d never been more sure of anything”
“Sometimes in fanciful moments, he liked to think that it had simply come to check on them, to make sure Travis was still watching over Gabby. Either that he told himself or it came to tell him not to give up hope; that in the end, his choice had been correct”
“and most of the time a pest-they all looked pretty much alike”
“Hope, he learned was sometimes all a person had and in the past four months, he learned to embrace it. Since he’d made his choice, his life had gradually returned to a kind of normalcy. Or at least a semblance thereof.”
“I know that what Gabby wanted but… in the end, I just couldn’t do it. Even if I spend the rest of my life visiting her in the nursing home, it’s still a better life than one could spend with anyone else. I love her too much to let her go.”
“Yes, I do I’ve always believed that. The two of you… there’s something uncanny about the way you are with each other. I mean everything – the way you look at each other, the way she relaxes when you put your hand on her back, the way you both seem to know what the other is always thinking… it’s always struck me as extraordinary. That’s another reason I keep putting marriage off. I want something like what you two share, and I’m not sure I’ve found it yet. I’m not surer I ever will. And with love like that…. they say anythings possible, right? You love Gabby and Gabby loves you, and I just can’t imagine a world where you’re not together. Together with the way you’re meant to be”- Stephanie
“But the choice, he wanted to plead, has been based on faulty assumptions. If he could go back in time, he would never have made that promise, and he wondered whether she would have even asked him to. Would she have made the same decision if she’d known he would cause her coma in the first place?”
“I guess what I’m trying to say is that you two make me believe that true love really exists. And that even the darkest hours can’t take that away”
“I mean it. I’ve worked here longer than Gabby, and you should have heard the way she used to talk about you. And the kids, too, of course. You could tell that even though she loved her job, she was always happiest when it was time to go home at the end of the day. She wasn’t like the rest of us, who were excited to be done for the day. She was excited to go home, to be reunited with her family. I really admired that about her, that she had a life like that”
“When the police arrive at the house, Travis was arrested for the first and only time in his life. He was brought to the station, where most of the officers treated him with amused respect. Every one of them had brought their pets to the clinic and were clearly skeptical of Mrs. Melton’s claim that
“Some psycho has assaulted my husband… he realized they were talking about the Sheriff’s cat, who seemed to have developed a rash of some sort and couldn’t stop scratching”
“For a second there, I thought she was going to punch you. Then I thought she was going to cry. And then she looked like she wanted to punch you again”- Stephanie”
“You know – making someone hate you so quickly. That’s a rare gift.” – Stephanie
– I wish I had a relationship as beautiful as what Gabby and Travis have
– I love dogs so I took the book almost immediately
– I didn’t realize I bought matching dog clip bookmarks with this book
– I just learned about dogs in this book (and some part of the vet’s life: neutered, birth, birth complication, etc)
– My favorite character was Stephanie, go figure.
Already read The Choice? Who is your favorite character? Comment below!