This story will certainly appeal to teenagers, but it can also be enjoyed by a member of the older generation, to which I can attest. My Book Club turns thumbs down on any book but Nicholas Sparks, but I find that all of his movies bring tears to my eyes. His books which have become movies are always entertaining, and “A Walk to Remember” is no exception. The setting is in Beaufort, North Carolina, but the movie was actually filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina.
A group of teenage boys was involved in hazing a new recruit, Clay Gebhardt (Matt Lutz), to their clique by daring him to jump off a high bridge into the water. One of the group, Landon Carter (Shane West) agreed to accompany the candidate off the bridge, but fooled him by not jumping on cue. Clay belly-flopped and did not come up for several minutes, which disturbed the boys. They finally rescued him and brought him up on the deck. As they heard a police siren, the entire group scattered, including Landon Carter, who was the last to leave Clay by himself. Clay was taken to a hospital where he was diagnosed as paralyzed and was undergoing rehabilitation.
Shane West - Wikimedia
The Principal of the school singled out Landon for drinking on school property and for being involved in the hazing. Landon was told that he had to help the school janitor with his chores, he had to tutor a student after school, and he had to join the school’s drama club which was preparing to put on a play. Landon’s parents were divorced and Landon lived with his mother (Daryl Hannah), who was happy that Landon would be involved in the school play. Landon’s father, a cardiologist, had very little connection with Landon, for which the boy was somewhat resentful.
Rehearsals for the play began and Landon was given the part of Tommy Thornton, the main male character, opposite Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore) who was regarded by the “cool” kids as a bible-reading nerd who wore one green sweater every day. Jamie’s father, Reverend Sullivan, was the minister at the church to which Landon belonged, and Jamie sang in the choir. In the play, she was schedule to sing a solo to Landon. Landon did not care to be seen with Jamie because of the peer pressure against her, and only spoke to her at rehearsal. They knew each other and shared classes ever since kindergarten.
Jamie and Landon Keep Their Distance
Jamie gave Landon a ride home after rehearsal during which she told him she had several goals to achieve, #42 being to befriend somebody she did not like. She would not reveal what the #1 goal on her list was. Landon spoke to her before school in the morning, but avoided her in the cafeteria where she sat with other outsiders like herself.
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Mandy Moore - Wikimedia
Jamie’s Interest in Astronomy
The next evening, Landon saw Jamie going into the cemetery and followed her, wondering why she would choose such a place to walk. She explained that she had her telescope with her which she built when she was 12 years old, and was plann to view the planet Saturn. She was hoping to build a larger one because it was revealed that a comet could be seen in the next few months, which would require the larger telescope. Jamie extracted one promise from Landon, that he would not fall in love with her. Landon agreed that it was not likely.
A Friendship Develops Slowly
Landon visited Jamie after school, hoping that they could run through their lines together. She closed the door on him. Her father, Reverend Sullivan, did not care for Landon, and had not yet given Jamie permission to date anyone. Jamie’s mother had died when she was young, and the Reverend was responsible for caring for Jamie. He eventually agreed that Landon could come over to rehearse their lines for the play. They both joked that they could be secret friends.
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Broken Heart - Wikimedia
Jamie is Bullied
Meanwhile, Landon’s friends began to bully Jamie. They would remark to her about the green sweater she always wore, and would laugh at her, both in front of her and behind her back. Landon’s former girlfriend, Belinda, was fairly decent to Jamie, but she was in the minority. She even offered to help her to choose the right makeup for her.
The Play is Successful
The play goes on and was successful. Jamie’s solo was highly successful, and Landon ad libbed when she finished her song by kissing her which was not in the script. Landon’s father came to the play, and Landon and he shared just a moment with each other. Landon confided in his mother that he was planning to study seriously from now on because he planned to go to medical school. He also visited Clay Gebhardt while he was recuperating at home, and apologized for running away that night.
Landon Has a Change of Feeling
Landon looked up Jamie’s picture in their yearbook and it stated that her wish was to witness a miracle. The next day, Landon showed up on Jamie’s porch with a present for her. He told her he missed spending time with her. He brought her a pink sweater. He asked Reverend Sullivan for permission to take Jamie to dinner. The Reverend agreed. They went to a lovely outdoor restaurant near the water. One of Jamie’s list of things she wanted to achieve in life was to be in two places at once. Landon drove her to the state line where she could put one foot in Virginia and the other foot in North Carolina. Also on her list was getting a tattoo. Landon brought an erasable decal of a butterfly tattoo and transferred it to her shoulder. He also had a star named after her and gave her the proof listed in the International Star Registry. That night he told Jamie that he loved her. She reminded him that he had promised not to fall in love with her.
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Peter Coyote - Wikimedia
Jamie then admitted to Landon that she was sick; she had leukemia. She found out about it two years ago, but she had stopped responding to treatments. She said “I’m sorry, I should have told you sooner. I’m scared of not being with you.” Landon was devastated.
He asked his mother to teach him to dance because Jamie loved to dance and he wanted to dance with her. One day, Jamie fainted and had to be admitted to the hospital. Landon went to visit her every day.
Landon’s Love for Jamie
Landon went to visit his father and begged him to see if he could find a cure for Jamie. His father explained that he was a cardiologist and would not be any help to her. A short time later, Landon’s mother told him that his father had arranged for Jamie to have private home care so that she could leave the hospital.
Landon began work on the larger telescope that Jamie needed to see the comet which would be visible in a short time. They were both able to spot the comet form Jamie’s upstairs porch. Landon asked her what was #1 on her list that she wanted to achieve. She said that she wanted to be married in the church where her mother grew up, where her parents were married.
Jamie had a present for Landon. It was a book of her mother’s which contained quotes from famous people. They read it together. Jamie said to him “Maybe God has a bigger plan for me that I had for myself. You were sent to me because I’m sick, to help me through all this. You’re my angel.”
Landon and Jamie are Married
Landon said “Will you marry me?” Although they were only eighteen years old and Jamie had terminal leukemia, they were married and had a perfect summer together. Her unfailing faith carried her through and she passed away when the summer ended.
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Telescope - Wikimedia
Landon and the Reverend are Friends
Four years later, Jamie mentioned to the Reverend that he was disappointed that Jamie did not have a chance to witness a miracle as she had expressed in the class yearbook. The Reverend disagreed and said that she did in fact witness her miracle, and it was Landon.
Landon told Reverend Sullivan that he was accepted in Medical School. He said that Jamie had saved his life; she had taught him everything, and that he would always miss her.
Both the book “A Walk to Remember” and the film are dedicated to Nicholas Sparks’ sister, Danielle Sparks Lewis, who died of leukemia and whose husband married her in spite of her diagnosis. The idea for the book, therefore, came from an incident in Nicholas Sparks’ own life.
This was a beautiful story. It should be seen by young people who may realize that one’s life can be turned around and made worthwhile by another.