Did Jamie live or die at the end of the novel?
As I mentioned in the notes, this is the most frequently asked question I receive. As far as I can tell, about 70% of the people think Jamie passed away, another 30% believe she lived, and when asking the question, they offer ‘‘proof’’ for their reasoning. Isn’t it said that good books inspire debate? There are a number of things that I have to explain before I get into the answer so you can understand my reasoning. Part of it goes back to Message in a Bottle. In a nutshell, while many readers loved the ending of that novel, a great many were furious with me for it. Really furious. This was on my mind while writing Walk, and part of me thought that if I killed off another major character, my readers would never forgive me. Nonetheless, when I started the novel, I knew that Jamie was going to die. Every page, every scene, every chapter was written with that idea and it continued to proceed that way right up until the end of the novel, when the time came to write those words. But strangely, I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t. Why? Because by that time, I’d grown to love Jamie Sullivan. I marveled at her strength and faith, and I was proud of everything for which she stood. And I didn’t want her to die. So I found myself in a dilemma. Also, keep in mind that the story was also inspired by my sister, who was very much alive as I neared the end of the novel. But because of all that I had written with her death in mind, because she was growing weaker and weaker throughout the story, it would have been dishonest (and frankly, very manipulative), to have Jamie suddenly cured. I could imagine some readers reaching the end and thinking, if that was the case, why the big build-up with her sickness? Others might close the book and think the entire novel was believable ... up until that point. I didn’t want either of those impressions of the novel. So what was I to do? I didn’t want her to die, and couldn’t write those words. Yet, plainly I couldn’t let her live, either. I opted for the only solution, the solution that best described the feeling I had about my gravely ill sister at that point: namely, that I hoped she would live. That’s the ending, folks. I wanted readers to finish with the hope that Jamie lived. As to whether she actually lived or died, it’s ambiguous and purposely meant to be that way. If you wanted Jamie to live, she lived. If you knew that Jamie would die, she died. As for me (and I’m not the final say—I wrote the characters, but readers know them just as well as I do), I thought there was a good chance that Jamie lived. At least, I hoped so.
What was the inspiration for this novel?
My sister. See Background Information on A Walk to Remember.
Was this a real experience for you or was the story made-up?
The majority of the story was made-up, though certain parts did have their basis in reality. See Background Information on A Walk to Remember.
Are you from Beaufort, North Carolina?
No. I live near there.
Did you have the title of the book before you wrote it, or did the title come from the book?
It came from the book. As soon as I wrote those words, I knew that was the title.
Why didn’t Hegbert like Landon?
A close reading of the story will answer that question, but the answer is largely two-fold. Hegbert had a problem with the way Landon’s grandfather had accumulated his wealth, and Landon himself is sort of aimless. Also realize that Hegbert is secretly fearful for his daughter and doesn’t want anyone to hurt her.
Is there any parallel between Landon and something in your own life?
Oh, I don’t know. Landon is a typical teenage boy, and at one time, I was one of those as well, so I could relate to what he was thinking. But the funny thing is, despite what people read in the newspapers, I think most teenagers have pretty good hearts. Landon was no exception, and once he realized how great Jamie was, he couldn’t help but fall in love with her.
Did Landon become a minister?
I never answered that directly, but I thought he did.
What did the last sentence mean?
Either the miracle was that Jamie lived (if that was the ending you imagined), or that Landon had experienced the miracle of first love and it had redeemed him (if you imagined that Jamie died).
Why did Jamie’s father finally let Jamie go out with Landon?
A clear reading of the novel should provide an answer, but it’s essentially because Hegbert had begun to see positive changes in Landon’s character and knew that it was important to Jamie.
Will there be a sequel to A Walk to Remember?
I think so. I’m getting close to figuring out the story and hope to write it sometime in the next couple of years (although I’ve been saying that for a few years). It’s tricky, though, for the simple reason that I have to be true to both the novel and the film, which isn’t an easy thing to do.
Will there be a teaching series?
An educational edition was published under the Novel Learning SeriesTM banner. More information can be found out by visiting the Novel Learning Series section of this site.