True to his previous novels, Nicholas Sparks has produced AT FIRST SIGHT in a similar style and pattern. The book is character-driven, with the emotional impact that protagonists in THE NOTEBOOK, MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE, THE GUARDIAN and THE WEDDING have left on readers. Jeremy Marsh, who we met earlier this year in TRUE BELIEVER, has a problem that he cannot solve. He is a writer by profession and has a syndrome called writer's block.
While successfully writing for a scientific magazine and living in New York City, Jeremy took an assignment in Boone Creek, a tiny community in North Carolina. There he met Lexie Darnell, the local librarian, and put to test the ancient theory that "love at first sight" is possible. As the action picks up in AT FIRST SIGHT, Jeremy is abandoning his friends, apartment and cushy job in New York to make the move to the tiny rural town. After a whirlwind courtship, one night of sexual bliss and Lexie's revelation a bit later that she is pregnant, Jeremy proposes marriage. His life changes from that day forward.
Facing deadlines from his editor on a column and new feature stories, Jeremy sits at the computer day after day, producing nothing. His professional skills have disappeared and no words come forth. In the meantime, Lexie's focus is on the wedding and baby. Her aunt Doris, who has raised her from childhood, is somewhat of a psychic and can predict the sex of the unborn. Lexie is convinced that her baby will be a girl.
Emotionally burned in a previous marriage, Jeremy is not certain that fatherhood is a right path. He has escaped the situation and doubts his ability to perform the fatherly rites associated with the status. In fact, he has loathed the idea to this point. Sparks writes with clarity the emotion that Jeremy experiences; one concludes that the author may have lived through such uneasiness, or may have had close-knit ties to someone in a similar situation.
Sparks's young newlyweds face the tests of instant marriage and subsequent parenthood with the joys and pitfalls that all lovers must endure. Jeremy's life change is more dramatic than his wife's; she lives in a comfort zone in familiar territory with family and friends, while Jeremy finds that adapting to a total change of circumstances is the challenge of his life. His career threatens a freefall, and emotional stability becomes nonexistent. Lexie's emotions run the roller-coaster of pregnancy, but she remains a constant source of stability to him.
In this novel, Sparks attempts to answer the question, "How well do we really know the ones we love?" He writes of love, betrayal, endings that bring new beginnings, tragedies that lead to joy, and the insights of everlasting love. The story could have been a betrayal of the "manliness" so rampant in today's society, but the author redeems Jeremy's character with soulful insight and strengthens him by book's end. AT FIRST SIGHT is an easy read that should join Sparks's earlier novels in stature.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on December 22, 2010
At First Sight