*Warning: Spoilers for those who have not read The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. Read at your own risk!*
1. Ronnie is a difficult teenager who is prone to acting out and is alienated from both her parents at the start of the novel. Were you rebellious as a teenager? How was this manifested? On the other side, have you ever had to deal with a rebellious teenager? Did Ronnie’s behavior touch a nerve?
I was never a real rebellious teenager. My form of rebellion was not taking more than two years of Spanish in high school and taking a class that I thought was more fun and exciting instead. I would do small things like that, but I never stayed out late or anything like that. I was obviously extremely rebellious...not. I've never had to deal with a rebellious teenager. In the beginning, I thought Ronnie was a selfish brat. She seemed hard to relate to, but she grew on me, and I ended up liking her.
2. What do you think about the very different approaches to parenting taken by Ronnie’s mother and father? Do you think Ronnie’s mother is too intrusive or can you understand her relationship with Ronnie? Do you think Ronnie’s father is too absent, or can you understand why the relationship is the way it is?
I found it interesting how different Ronnie's mother and father were. They were completely different when it came to parenting. Ronnie's mother did not trust Ronnie while her father trusted her completely. I think Ronnie's mother is too intrusive, but I can understand why she is that way. I think it had a lot to do with how Ronnie behaved around her. I thought Ronnie's father was just a really calm and serene person who did not let anything get him down. I did not think he was too absent. I just thought that that was how he was as a person.
3. Early in the novel we learn that Ronnie was a piano prodigy who performed at Carnegie Hall when she was thirteen. However, when we meet Ronnie she hasn’t played in many years and she’s sworn to never play the piano again. Why does Ronnie feel this way? Who do you think Ronnie hurts more by not playing the piano, herself or her father?
I think Ronnie sworn never to play the piano again because it reminds her of her father too much. Piano playing was something she did with him, so after he left she associated the piano with abandonment. I think that Ronnie hurts herself more by not playing the piano because she is basically throwing away her talent. She was an amazing piano player who could actually make a living out of it, so she is hurting herself more by not playing.
4. Reflecting back on his life, Steve wonders: “Was it still possible for someone like him to experience the presence of God?” Why does Steve ask himself this? What role do religion and belief play in this novel? How would you characterize Steve’s religious faith?
I think that Steve asks himself because he does not feel God, and he thinks that maybe someone who is sick like him cannot feel God. Religion and belief seem to play a huge role in this novel. The characters find relief in finding God. I would characterize Steve's religious faith as a great thing. I think he finds contentment in discovering God all around him. He is definitely a religious man, and I think that passes onto Ronnie.
5. Why does Will fall for Ronnie? Can you understand the attraction from both Ronnie’s and Will’s point of view?
Will falls for Ronnie because she is different from what he is used to. She feels real to him, and she is not afraid of what others think. Will sees that Ronnie is an individual. I can understand the attraction from both Ronnie's and Will's point of view. They both agree that the other is not the usual type that they go for. I think that is what makes their relationship work, though. Will is not who Ronnie would ever expect to fall for and vice versa. The fact that they are different makes it work.
6. What do you make of Blaze? How would you characterize her relationship with Marcus? Have you ever been in a relationship that was not particularly healthy? Did you stay in the relationship? If so, why?
Blaze is a difficult person to make out. She is obviously lost throughout the novel. She pretends to be a person she is not by having a relationship with Marcus. I think the only reason that Blaze was with Marcus was because of the situation with her mother and the fact that her mother did not want her to spend time with Marcus. Maybe it was a cry for attention. Her relationship with Marcus is unhealthy. Marcus treats her like crap and does not care for her at all. He just uses her whenever it benefits him. I really did not like how Marcus treated Blaze. Personally, I have never been in a relationship that was unhealthy like that.
7. Ronnie and Will fall in love very quickly over the course of the summer. Have you ever had a summer romance that became something more than a fling?
I have never had a summer romance. I definitely loved reading about Ronnie and Will falling in love so quickly. It was cute.
8. This novel is, in large part, about loyalty and trust. Which characters exhibit the most trustworthiness and which exhibit the least? How does a betrayal of trust affect various relationships within the novel?
Most trustworthy- Steve, Will, Ronnie, Jonah, Will's sister Megan, Pastor Harris
Least trustworthy- Marcus, Blaze, Ronnie's mother Kim
Kim betraying her husband ends up causing Ronnie's relationship with her father to suffer. Since Kim never admitted to cheating and let Ronnie believe it was her father's fault for leaving, Ronnie's relationship with her father became nonexistent.
Blaze betraying Ronnie almost ruins Ronnie's life.
9. In the middle of the novel, Will asks Ronnie how far she would go to protect a friend. Why does Will ask Ronnie this? How far would you go to protect a friend?
Will asks Ronnie this because he is not sure if he should keep Scott's secret any longer. If he continues to protect Scott, his friend will be out of trouble, but if he does not keep his secret, Scott could get into serious trouble.
I would go pretty far to protect a friend because I like to think that they would do the same thing for me.
10. How are Jonah and Ronnie affected by their parents’ divorce? What effect does divorce have on children, in your experience?
Jonah and Ronnie are both affected by their parents' divorce differently. I think Jonah was too young to be affected too much. He misses his dad, but he still loves and cares for him. Ronnie, on the other hand, took her parents' divorce hard. She thought her father left her and her family, so she stopped talking to her dad. Since Ronnie did not know the true reason why her parents divorced, she took it out on her father.
In my experience, divorce can have a horrible effect on children. They can be seriously hurt because their parents divorce. At times, they do not understand why their parents do not want to be together anymore. They may even go as far as blaming themselves for their parents' problems. Divorce is hard, especially on children.
11. Both Will and Ronnie come from families that have certain expectations of them. How do these familial expectations shape them and in what ways do they reject these expectations?
Will's parents expect him to go to a certain college and taking over the family business after he graduates. Even though Will may not want to do that, his familial expectations help him become who he is. He loves his family and has a great relationship with his sister. Ronnie's parents want her to make good decisions, and her father knows that she will learn from her mistakes. I think Ronnie's biggest familial expectation is to always be honest, and she takes this to heart. She is a very honest person. When she was living with only her mother, she would reject her expectations, but I think she was doing that out of rebellion. She really is a good person at heart.
12. Why does Ronnie get angry at Will toward the end of the novel? Do you think her anger is justified?
Ronnie gets angry at Will towards the end of the novel because she is hurting. Her father is dying and there is nothing she can do about it. She just wants to be alone, and Will understood that. Given the situation, I think that her anger was justified.
13. What do you think of the choices Steve and Kim make as parents? Do you think they were right in keeping certain things secret from their children?
I think the choices that Steve and Kim make as parents are mostly good choices. I do think that they should have told their children about why they divorced because then Ronnie and Steve's relationship may not have suffered. Even though I think they made from wrong choices, I think they did what they thought was best.
14. Ronnie makes an important choice at the end of the novel. Would you have made the same choice if you were in her position?
I would have definitely made the same choice if I was in her position. She is definitely a strong woman to do what she did.
15. In what ways does Ronnie change over the course of the novel? In what ways does she stay the same?
I think that Ronnie grows a lot as a person. She still has the same values, but I think she has grown up. She does not do the same childish things that she did in the beginning of the book. She is more responsible and determined now.
Fun Book Club! I hope I can participate in another one soon.
Swords are for fighting,