As anyone who ever ugly cried their way through The Notebook knows, Nicholas Sparks is a master at crafting an amazing love story. And that’s precisely what his latest novel—the author’s first in two years—is. But at its heart, See Me is also a tale of redemption, second chances, and changing one’s life path even when the outcome seems predestined.
At 28, Colin Hancock finally seems to be moving in the right direction. Following a rebellious childhood, a string of arrests for bar fights, and a stint at an anger management facility in Arizona, Colin is now studying to become a third-grade teacher. Plus, he has a good job as a bartender and is channeling his rage into MMA fighting. Unfortunately, he also has Detective Pete Margolis watching him, just waiting for him to slip up—if Colin is arrested again for anything, he’ll be going to prison for a decade.
Meanwhile, Maria Sanchez, also 28, has taken a more conventional road to success. The oldest daughter of Mexican immigrants, Maria is a graduate of Duke Law School and now has a job with a prestigious firm in Wilmington, NC. But she has her own dark past from which she’s trying to escape. Maria prosecuted a case in which a young woman, Cassie Manning, was stalked and assaulted by a dangerous ex-boyfriend. After Maria allowed the ex to plead guilty to a misdemeanor assault, he promptly sought out Cassie after he was released from prison and murdered her before taking his own life. The woman’s family blamed Maria for Cassie’s death—the brother sent her menacing notes, the father threatened to sue her—and Maria was in such a fragile state, she moved back home.
As Colin and Maria start to find their footing, a chance encounter brings the unlikely pair together. Neither of them are looking for a relationship, particularly with someone so different from themselves, but they can’t deny their chemistry. However, just as their romance starts to unfold, glimpses of both Maria’s and Colin’s traumatic pasts begin to surface.
See Me seamlessly combines romance, action, mystery, and suspense. But this isn’t a fairy tale love story filled with too-good-to-be-true characters—both Maria’s and Colin’s flaws are explored as a part of the perfectly imperfect tapestry of their lives. As Sparks shows us, it’s these flaws that often bring people closer together.
Sparks also fully develops the friendships and family relationships in the story. Readers will dig the bromance between Colin and his polar-opposite best friend, Evan. And Maria has feisty sister Serena, her best friend, and the parents with whom both girls share a deep bond.
Since this is Nicholas Sparks we’re talking about, you’ll definitely start casting the film adaptation as soon as you start reading. We’re going with Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez as Maria and Faking It’s Skyler Maxon as Colin. You’re welcome, Hollywood (and everyone else).
Sparks’s See Me clocks in at 482 pages, but you will not want to put it down once you dig in. So clear your weekend plans (that marathon viewing of The Notebook, The Longest Ride, and A Walk to Remember will just have to wait).