Near the beginning of the novel, Nicholas Sparks writes, “Youth offers the promise of happiness, but life offers the realities of grief.” Do you think this is true? In what ways have the “realities of grief” shaped Denise Holton’s character?
In the beginning of the novel, Denise has given up nearly everything in her life to take care of her son. Do you think she’s made the right choice? Why or why not?
Denise blames herself for Kyle’s developmental problems. Why? Do you think hers is a common reaction of parents with learning disabled children?
For all his wonderful attributes, Taylor McAden is flawed. He himself acknowledges that his former girlfriends felt he had “something inside they were unable to reach.” What is that “something” and why is Taylor so reluctant to let people in?
Both Denise and Taylor had fathers who died while they were children. Do you think such childhood losses affect a person’s adult relationships?
Denise wonders if fate or “something else” brought Taylor and her together. Much later in the book, she says, “My mom used to believe that people were destined for each other.” Discuss whether you think that meeting the person you love is coincidence, fate, or “something else”?
Denise defines herself primarily as a mother. Yet after falling for Taylor, she realizes she is also a woman who “longed to be desired . . . to be loved.” How difficult is the balance between these roles? Does having a child with special needs makes it more difficult or even impossible for a woman to sustain a romantic relationship?
Like most people, Taylor has nightmares and he often has the same nightmare repeatedly. Why do you think this is and what do Taylor’s nightmares suggest about him?
Denise recognizes the “warning bells” that signal Taylor’s fear of a committed relationship. What are they?
When Taylor doesn’t call her, Denise experiences something just about every woman has gone through: sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. Denise never thought she’d do that, so why does she? What do you think she should have done at that point?
When Taylor doesn’t show up to drive Denise to work, she is not only hurt but she also has to scramble to get to her job. Do you think she made a mistake by becoming dependent on Taylor? At what point in a relationship should a person become dependent on another—and to what degree?
What do you make of the fact that Taylor fails to show up to take Kyle to the ballgame? Do you believe that he “forgot”? Why does he show up with a present the next day?
How significant are good friendships for the characters in this story? What role do they have in changing Taylor?
Toward the end of the novel, Judy tells Taylor that she doesn’t feel she was a good mother in the past. Was she right? How does that affect the way she treats him now?
The theme of the novel is love as rescue. Who is saved by love in the novel?