It's been a while since I've read a book by Nicholas Sparks.
I really enjoyed The Notebook (both the book and movie), and have read a couple of his other novels, so when I had the opportunity to read his latest, Two By Two, which was released last month, I was happy to get onboard.
Two By Two centres around 32-year-old Russell Green. He and his wife Vivian reside in North Carolina with their daughter London.
Russ has a career in advertising, but when London gets to kindergarten age, he decides to branch out on his own as he no longer feels satisfied in his job.
Vivian, in the meantime decides to get back into the workforce, securing a job in PR, which becomes increasingly demanding. It puts a strain on their relationship, and creates a shift in roles.
Russ become London's primary caregiver, whilst juggling housework, errands, and trying to land clients for his newly-established firm.
I must say that there were times during this part of the book that I was thinking that Russ needed to toughen up, or even just demand the respect he was entitled to. He didn't stand up for himself, and it made me disappointed, as he was doing the best given the circumstances. I didn't like that he so easily gave in to many of Vivian's demands, but thankfully, by the end of the novel, Russ becomes a little less of a push-over.
At the beginning of each chapter, we are taken back into Russ's past, learning more about his family, and his relationships before Vivian. We learn about his older sister Marge, who is an accountant, and has a long-term partner named Liz. She has a very strong bond with Russ; they have been there for each other countless times over the years, through many ups and downs.
I simply adored Marge's character. Her wit, her straight-forward nature, and her love for Russ made her one of my favourite characters in the story.
We also find out about Russ's first love, a woman named Emily.
It all ties in when Emily is bought back into the picture in the present day, when London befriends a young boy named Bodhi, who turns out to be Emily's son.
Emily is now divorced and getting used to life as a single parent.
Russ becomes friends with Emily again, and she becomes a great support to Russ when life throws him some major hurdles..
I don't want to elaborate further as I prefer to keep my reviews spoiler-free.
I really enjoyed this book, but I felt it could've done with about 50-or-so pages less, as some parts of the book felt unnecessary and there were many conversations that could've been edited out as they didn't add much to the story line.
But I liked reading about Russ's journey with his daughter. It is a beautiful, sweet relationship.
And I did shed a tear or two towards the end!
Nicholas Sparks writes with a lot of heart, and you know that when you read one of his books, that you are going to experience an emotional roller-coaster.
Have you read any books by Nicholas Sparks? Do you have a favourite?
And don't forget there's still time to enter my lovely children's Christmas book giveaway here