The Return

- Nicholas Sparks

Goodreads Book Blurb:

Trevor Benson never intended to move back to New Bern, NC. But when a mortar blast outside the hospital where he worked as an orthopedic surgeon sent him home from Afghanistan with devastating injuries, the dilapidated cabin he’d inherited from his grandfather seemed as good a place to regroup as any. Tending to his grandfather’s beloved bee hives while gearing up for a second stint in medical school, Trevor isn’t prepared to fall in love with a local . . . and yet, from their very first encounter, he senses a connection with deputy sheriff Natalie Masterson that he can’t ignore. But even as she seems to reciprocate his feelings, she remains frustratingly distant, making Trevor wonder what she’s hiding.

Further complicating his stay in New Bern is the presence of a sullen teenage girl, Callie, who lives in the trailer park down the road from his grandfather’s cabin. Claiming to be 17, she works at the local sundries store and keeps to herself. Discovering that she was once befriended by his grandfather, Trevor hopes Callie can shed light on the mysterious circumstances of his grandfather’s death, but she offers few clues — until a crisis triggers a race that will uncover the true nature of Callie’s past, one more intertwined with the elderly man’s passing than Trevor ever could have anticipated.

In his quest to unravel Natalie’s and Callie’s secrets, Trevor will learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness . . . and that in life, to move forward, we must often return to the place where it all began.

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My Review:

not my cup of tea:
2/5
I’m unsure if I’ve outgrown Sparks or if Trevor is just the worst protagonist he’s ever written. His perspective is so toxically male that I felt uncomfortable just reading the book.

Trevor is an expert on everything; don’t worry, he’ll tell you about it. At times The Return felt like a textbook on therapy techniques rather than someone working through trauma and applying therapeutical approaches to their daily life. And then there was a lesson on bees; when he’s on a pseudo-date with Natalie, showing her the bees, it sounds like he’s giving her a lecture. This was my biggest problem (out of many) with their whole relationship – Trevor rarely stops talking. He’s always so surprised that he knows so little about her life because he’s made such an effort. In his case, this means he asks her one question, she evades, and he starts a monologue about himself. But don’t worry, there’s a serious case of instalove going on, so their relationship doesn’t need to make sense. There’s no give and take to the relationship, just all Trevor all the time.

It's been said that women are the mysterious sex, and even now, my first inclination is to laugh when a guy I'm talking to says he understands what makes women tick. I was flummoxed by the one-sided nature of the conversation. I'd told her a lot about myself but had learned almost nothing about her.

The Callie/Trevor’s grandfather storyline could’ve been the best part of this book, but it feels like an afterthought. Something that was thrown in to kill time after Natalie ghosts Trevor. Because *gasp* instalove is not. a. thing. At least, not a sustainable thing.

I am a sucker for a tearjerker, and Sparks usually gets me good, but The Return didn’t make me tear up even once. So honestly, I think I’m being generous with this two-star rating.

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