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Three Weeks with My Brother

Three Weeks with My Brother

4.3 335
by Nicholas Sparks, Micah Sparks

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As moving as his bestselling works of fiction, Nicholas Sparks's unique memoir, written with his brother, chronicles the life-affirming journey of two brothers bound by memories, both humorous and tragic. In January 2003, Nicholas Sparks and his brother Micah set off on a three-week trip around the world. It was to mark a milestone in their lives, for at 37 and 38


As moving as his bestselling works of fiction, Nicholas Sparks's unique memoir, written with his brother, chronicles the life-affirming journey of two brothers bound by memories, both humorous and tragic. In January 2003, Nicholas Sparks and his brother Micah set off on a three-week trip around the world. It was to mark a milestone in their lives, for at 37 and 38 respectively, they were now the only surviving members of their family. As Nicholas and Micah travel the globe, the intimate story of their family unfolds in the details of the untimely deaths of their parents and only sister. Against the backdrop of the wonders of the world, the Sparks brothers band together to heal, to remember, and to learn to live life to the fullest.

Author Biography: Nicholas Sparks lives in North Carolina with his wife and children. Micah Sparks lives in California with his wife and son.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When bestselling author Sparks (The Notebook; Message in a Bottle; etc.) receives a brochure offering a three-week trip around the world, it's not hard for him to persuade Micah, his older brother, to join him in touring Guatemala's Mayan ruins, Peru's Incan temples, Easter Island, the killing fields in Cambodia, the Taj Mahal and Ethiopian rock cathedrals. His account of the trip is refreshingly honest and perceptive. At each stop, the brothers, both deeply committed to their families, cover the crucial moments in a life full of familial love and tragedy: Nick's role as the middle child always feeling left out; his marriage in 1989; the loss of Nick and Micah's mother two months later after a horseback riding accident; the death of Nick's first baby and the physical problems of his second son; the death of their father in a car accident; and the passing of their younger sister from a brain tumor. As the brothers travel together through these mythical sites and share candid thoughts, they find themselves stunned by fate's turns, realizing that a peaceful moment may be shattered at any time. Weaving in vignettes of tenderness and loss with travelogue-like observations, Sparks's account shows how he and his brother both evolved on this voyage. "Somehow there was a chance we could help each other, and in that way, I began to think of the trip less as a journey around the world than a journey to rediscover who I was and how I'd developed the way I did." Agent, Theresa Park. (Apr. 13) Forecast: Sparks's previous books have been champions of the bestseller list, and there's no reason to believe this one isn't destined for similar success. The New Line feature film The Notebook is slated for release in June, which should drive interest further. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Sparks, the best-selling author of several novels (The Notebook; Message in a Bottle), turns his hand to nonfiction in a hybrid that mixes personal memoir with travel narrative. Chapters alternate between descriptions of the exotic locales visited on an around-the-world excursion with his brother and incidents from their shared childhood and Nicholas's adult life. The greater part of the book is devoted to memoirs that read like Sparks's novels; indeed, it would appear that he has drawn much of the inspiration for his fiction from personal experience. The travel chapters are disappointing at best. Sparks drones on about the minutiae of the trip while offering little description of the famous landmarks he visits (Machu Picchu, Taj Mahal, Easter Island) beyond the usual postcard writer's platitudes. In fact, the entire book is clich -ridden, with short, choppy sentences, unexciting dialog, and a dearth of modifiers. However, Sparks's legion of readers will undoubtedly find the details of his personal life appealing, and there is certain to be strong interest in this title. Public libraries should purchase it strictly to meet demand. Rita Simmons, Sterling Heights P.L., MI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.44(d)

Read an Excerpt

Three Weeks with My Brother

By Nicholas Sparks Micah Sparks

Warner Books

Copyright © 2004 Nicholas Sparks and Michael Sparks
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-53244-4

Chapter One

Many stories begin with a simple lesson learned, and our family's story is no exception. For brevity's sake, I'll summarize.

In the beginning, we children were conceived. And the lesson learned-at least according to my Catholic mother- goes like this:

"Always remember," she told me, "that no matter what the church tells you, the rhythm method doesn't work."

I looked up at her, twelve years old at the time. "You mean to say that we were all accidents?"

"Yep. Each and every one of you." "But good accidents, right?"

She smiled. "The very best kind." Still, after hearing this story, I wasn't sure quite what to think. On one hand, it was obvious that my mom didn't regret having us. On the other hand, it wasn't good for my ego to think of myself as an accident, or to wonder whether my sudden appearance in the world came about because of one too many glasses of champagne. Still, it did serve to clear things up for me, for I'd always wondered why our parents hadn't waited before having children. They certainly weren't ready for us, but then, I'm not exactly sure they'd been ready for marriage either.

Both my parents were born in 1942, and with World War II in its early stages, both my grandfathers served in the military. My paternal grandfather was a career officer; my dad, Patrick Michael Sparks, spent his childhood moving from one military base to the next, and growing up largely in the care of his mother. He was the oldest of five siblings, highly intelligent, and attended boarding school in England before his acceptance at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. It was there that he met my mom, Jill Emma Marie Thoene.

Like my dad, my mom was the oldest child in her family. She had three younger brothers and sisters, and was mostly raised in Nebraska where she developed a lifelong love of horses. Her father was an entrepreneur who ran a number of different businesses in the course of his life. When my mom was a teenager, he owned a movie theater in Lyons, a tiny town of a few hundred people nestled just off the highway in the midst of farmland. According to my mom, the theater was part of the reason she'd attended boarding school as well.

Supposedly, she'd been sent away because she'd been caught kissing a boy, though when I asked about it, my grandmother adamantly denied it. "Your mother always was a storyteller," my grandmother informed me. "She used to make up the darnedest things, just to get a reaction from you kids."

"So why did you ship her off to boarding school?" "Because of all the murders," my grandmother said. "Lots of young girls were getting killed in Lyons back then." I see.

Anyway, after boarding school, my mother headed off to Creighton University just like my dad, and I suppose it was the similarities between my parents' lives that first sparked their interest in each other. Whatever the reason, they began dating as sophomores, and gradually fell in love. They courted for a little more than a year, and were both twenty-one when they married on August 31, 1963, prior to the beginning of their senior year in college.

A few months later, the rhythm method failed and my mom learned the first of her three lessons. Micah was born on December 1, 1964. By spring, she was pregnant again, and I followed on December 31, 1965. By the following spring, she was pregnant with my sister, Dana, and decided that from that point on, she would take birth control matters into her own hands.

After graduation, my dad chose to pursue a master's degree in business at the University of Minnesota and the family moved near Watertown in the autumn of 1966. My sister, Dana, was born, like me, on December 31, and my mother stayed home to raise us while my father went to school during the day and tended bar at night.

Because my parents couldn't afford much in the way of rent, we lived miles from town in an old farmhouse that my mother swore was haunted. Years later, she told me that she used to see and hear things late at night-crying, laughing, and whispered conversations-but as soon as she would get up to check on us, the noises would fade away.

A likelier explanation was that she was hallucinating. Not because she was crazy-my mom was probably the most stable person I've ever known-but because she must have spent those first few years in a foggy world of utter exhaustion.

And I don't mean the kind of exhaustion easily remedied by a couple of days of sleeping in late. I mean the kind of unending physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that makes a person look like they've been swirled around in circles by their earlobes for hours before being plunked down at the kitchen table in front of you. Her life must have been absolute hell. Beginning at age twenty-five, with three babies in cloth diapers-with the exception of those times when her mother came to visit-she was completely isolated for the next two years. There was no family nearby to lend support, we were poor as dirt, and we lived in the middle of nowhere.

Nor could my mom so much as venture into the nearest town, for my father took the car with him to both school and work. Throw in a couple of Minnesota winters where snow literally reached the roof, subtract my always busy dad from the equation, throw in the unending whining and crying of babies and toddlers, and even then I'm not sure it's possible to imagine how miserable she must have been. Nor was my father much help-at that point in his life, he simply couldn't. I've often wondered why he didn't get a regular job, but he didn't, and it was all he could do to work and study and attend his classes. He would leave first thing in the morning and return long after everyone else had gone to bed.

So with the exception of three little kids, my mother had absolutely no one to talk to. She must have gone days or even weeks without having a single adult conversation.

Because he was the oldest, my mom saddled Micah with responsibilities far beyond his years-certainly with more responsibility than I'd ever trust my kids with. My mom was notorious for drumming old-fashioned, midwestern values into our heads and my brother's command soon became, "It's your job to take care of your brother and sister, no matter what." Even at three, he did. He helped feed me and my sister, bathed us, entertained us, watched us as we toddled around the yard. There are pictures in our family albums of Micah rocking my sister to sleep while feeding her a bottle, despite the fact that he wasn't all that much bigger than she was. I've come to understand that it was good for him, because a person has to learn a sense of responsibility. It doesn't magically appear one day, simply because you suddenly need it. But I think that because Micah was frequently treated as an adult, he actually believed he was an adult, and that certain rights were owed him. I suppose that's what led to an almost adult sense of stubborn entitlement long before he started school.

My earliest memory, in fact, is about my brother. I was two and a half-Micah a year older-on a late-summer weekend, and the grass was about a foot high. My dad was getting ready to mow the lawn and had pulled the lawn mower out from the shed. Now Micah loved the lawn mower, and I vaguely remember my brother pleading with my father to let him mow the lawn, despite the fact that he wasn't even strong enough to push it. My dad said no, of course, but my brother-all thirty pounds of him-couldn't see the logic of the situation. Nor, he told me later, was he going to put up with such nonsense.

In his own words, "I decided to run away." Now, I know what you're thinking. He's three and a half years old-how far could he go? My oldest son, Miles, used to threaten to run away at that age, too, and my wife and I responded thus: "Go ahead. Just make sure you don't go any farther than the corner." Miles, being the gentle and fearful child that he was, would indeed go no farther than the corner, where my wife and I would watch him from the kitchen window.

Not my brother. No, his thinking went like this: "I'm going to run far away, and since I'm always supposed to take care of my brother and sister, then I guess I have to take them with me."

So he did. He loaded my eighteen-month-old sister in the wagon, took my hand, and sneaking behind the hedges so my parents couldn't see us, began leading us to town. Town, by the way, was two miles away, and the only way to get there was to cross a busy two-lane highway.

We nearly made it, too. I remember marching through fields with weeds nearly as tall as I was, watching butterflies explode into the summer sky. We kept going for what seemed like forever before finally reaching the highway.

There we stood on the shoulder of the road-three children under four, mind you, and one in diapers-buffeted by powerful gusts of wind as eighteen-wheelers and cars rushed past us at sixty miles an hour, no more than a couple of feet away.

I remember my brother telling me, "You have to run fast when I tell you," and the sounds of honking horns and screeching tires after he screamed "Run!" while I toddled across the road, trying to keep up with him.

After that, things are a little sketchy. I remember getting tired and hungry, and finally crawling into the wagon with my sister, while my brother dragged us along like Balto, the lead husky, pushing through Alaskan snow. But I also remember being proud of him. This was fun, this was an adventure. And despite everything, I felt safe. Micah would take care of me, and my command from my mother had always been, "Do what your brother tells you." Even then, I did as I was told. Unlike my brother, I would grow up doing what I was told.

Sometime later, I remember heading over a bridge and up a hill; once we reached the top, we could see the town in the valley below. Years later, I understood that we must have been gone for hours-little legs can only cover two miles so fast-and I vaguely remember my brother promising us some ice cream to eat. Just then, we heard shouting, and as I looked over my shoulder, I saw my mother, frantically rushing up the road behind us. She was screaming at us to STOP! while wildly waving a flyswatter over her head. That's what she used to punish us, by the way. The fly-swatter.

My brother hated the flyswatter. Micah was unquestionably the most frequent recipient of the flyswatter punishment. My mom liked it because even though it stung, it didn't really hurt, and it made a loud noise when connecting with the diaper or through pants. The sound was what really got to you-it's like the popping of a balloon- and to this day, I still feel a strange sort of retributive glee when I swat insects in my home.

It wasn't long after the first time Micah ran away that he did it again. For whatever reason, he got in trouble, and this time it was my dad who went for the flyswatter. By then, Micah had grown tired of this particular punishment, so when he saw my father reaching for it, he said firmly, "You're not going to swat me with it."

My dad turned, flyswatter in hand, and that's when Micah took off. Sitting in the living room, I watched as my four-year-old brother raced from the kitchen, flew by me, and headed up the stairs with my dad close behind. I heard the thumping upstairs as my brother performed various, unknown acrobatics in the bedroom, and a moment later, he was zipping back down the stairs, past me again, through the kitchen and blasting through the back door, moving faster than I'd ever seen him move.

My dad, huffing and puffing-he was a lifelong smoker-rumbled down the stairs, and followed him. I didn't see either of them again for hours. After it was dark, when I was already in bed, I looked up to see my mom leading Micah into our room. My mom tucked him in bed and kissed him on the cheek. Despite the darkness, I could see he was filthy; smeared with dirt, he looked like he'd spent the past few hours underground. As soon as she left, I asked Micah what happened.

"I told him he wasn't going to swat me," he said. "Did he?"

"No. He couldn't catch me. Then he couldn't find me." I smiled, thinking, I knew you'd make it.


Excerpted from Three Weeks with My Brother by Nicholas Sparks Micah Sparks Copyright © 2004 by Nicholas Sparks and Michael Sparks. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

With over 100 million copies of his books sold, Nicholas Sparks is one of the world's most beloved storytellers. His novels include 12 #1 New York Times bestsellers. All his books have been New York Times and international bestsellers, and were translated into more than 50 languages. Ten Sparks novels have been adapted into major motion pictures, with The Choice coming in February 2016.

Brief Biography

New Bern, North Carolina
Date of Birth:
December 31, 1965
Place of Birth:
Omaha, Nebraska
B.A. in finance, University of Notre Dame, 1988

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Three Weeks with My Brother 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 335 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. It made me laugh and cry. I didn't want to put it down. I really do recomand this book to any one who is a Sparks fan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would highly recommend this book. If your a fan of Nicholas Sparks, you will gain a new insight into his life, where he gets inspration for the books that he writes, plus as he shares memories of his youth with his siblings, you take a personal journey as well. If you've never read any of his books, I still would highly recommend this read. Excellant author, excellant trip down memory lane, great life lessons and stories. Well worth the money and then some.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of Sparks' better books, however as I have read all of them, and they are ALL good - this one I really enjoyed since it was an autobiography. This book made me respect Sparks even more as I didnt realize the hardships he has lived throughout his life. I am not usually a non-fiction reader, but this I definitely recommend. I wish I had read it sooner to get more insight on Sparks' life. It is a very sweet story centered around family - the most important thing in life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a MUST read! I can't tell you how many times I've read this book. I've lost track, but after the first time I read it, I bought the audio cd set and made my family listen to it while we were traveling to our vacation destination. They LOVED it! I was even lucky enough to meet Micah and Nicholas Sparks when they were promoting this book. They are wonderul people especially for two brothers who have had ti face the tragidy that they have had to face. Read the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
His best work in my opinion
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yet another great book by Nicholas Sparks! I'm thinking this may have been a perfect book to begin with, then all of his books would have been even more memorable! But, now I can reread them all again and watch the movies and relate even more to the characters! I love his wruting style and can trust that I am reading a decent novel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a lover if all things Nicholas Sparks, I bought this initially to have a complete collection. I will admit it sat on my shelf for quite some time and I finally got around to reading it. It is just as good if not better than his others. I love that I can now look back at his other books and see where he draws inspiration. A truly wonderful book.
Halvor More than 1 year ago
I have never read a book written by Nicholas Sparks that I didn't like, and I believe I've read all of them. "Three Weeks With My Brother" was simply captivating in the familial aspect as well as the beautiful descriptive thruout.
Patriciarauda More than 1 year ago
This is a really great book; very family oriented and has a lot of exiting adventures. i got the book and I couldn’t stop reading, it’s very interesting and many can relate. it’s a different type of reading that Nicholas writes. Usually he has love stories fiction books. At first I was intimidated to read this because I thought it wants going to be interesting as his other books, but it really caught my attention. It’s about his relationship with his older brother Micah, and how his relationship changes as they get older and how they try and reconciliation that lost bond between them. To be honest when I first read it I thought it was made up because of how his childhood was, but then I realized it’s a memoir and he's just opening up his feelings to the public. I was surprised when I first read the book.it shows a new insight into Nicholas Sparks’ life, and how he's inspired to right all his other books, that captivate our attention. It may be the most interesting non-fiction book I’ve ever read. He’s done a good job with his other books; this is just another book to add into his category of amazing well written novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful memoir! I'm a big fan of Nicholas Sparks, but memoirs aren't normally my area of interest, so I put off reading "Three Weeks With My Brother." Finally, I decided to give it a try, and as with all of his books, I couldn't put it down. The way he wove the story of his 3-week trip around the world with his brother, along with the story of their lives, was genius. Nicholas has known real tragedy and real love, which explains how he is able to write such heart-wrenching, touching stories filled with love. If you are a fan and haven't read this yet, don't do yourself a disservice - read it now. If you are a fan of reading memoirs, I have a feeling you'll find this one among some of the best. What a life he's had! It was almost like reading one of his novels. Hats off to Nicholas Sparks - you are even more of an inspiration to me now than you were before I read this amazing story.
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Nicholas Sparks is one of my very favorite authors, I have diligently read every thing he has written to date. Some I reread over and over and some I will admit were not so great, but readable. Three Weeks with My Brother, is one of his best. Even if you have never read one of Sparks' novels, you will still like this book. It is both funny and sad, and it gives great insight to where he gets his ideas and inspiration from.
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It explains soooo much in my opinion like where e got all his ideas or whatever,for his books!!!!!!!!!!!!
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This is a must read for the way these brothers were raised.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter, son, grandson and l went to Cambodia to build houses for the homeless. We learned more from chapter 12 than we did when were in Cambodia. Thank You.
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Was not my complete favorite but glad i read it