The Longest Ride

Written by Nicholas Sparks
Review by Jessica Brockmole

Ninety-one-year-old Ira Levinson, stranded in a snowy embankment after a car accident, swears his wife Ruth, beloved, but dead nine years, is in the seat next to him. As Ruth morphs from the young woman Ira fell in love with in 1939 to the woman he married after WWII to the woman he grew old with, collecting paintings from emerging mid-century American artists, he reminisces on the decades shared with her, recalling the sorrows and the joys of their marriage.

A few miles away, Sophia, a Wake Forest senior studying art history, meets a young cowboy. Luke is a competitive bull-rider, a job that leaves him more battered than impassioned. He introduces Sophia to a world far removed from the sorority house and lecture halls she’s used to. And, in return, she offers him an unexpected bit of hope. The neat twist in the book comes when these two stories intersect, when Ira and his memories of Ruth come into contact with Sophia and Luke.

This is a book of gentle love stories, both young and old, new and lasting. Sparks excels in the quiet moments, in the close-held secrets, in the slowly unfurling romances. Although Sophia and Luke’s story was compelling, I was unsurprisingly drawn more to Ira and Ruth’s, stretching from just before WWII to the present day: Ira’s experiences as a navigator during the war, Ruth’s as a student at Wellesley, summers in the Outer Banks, their honeymoon visit to Black Mountain College, which spurs on a lifetime of serious art collecting. Their story was packed with so much neat history, told through affectionate banter, that I was eager to get to the next chapter. A charming book, recommended.