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Written by Black Eyed Susan


"This is a love story that has managed to touch my heart. Throughout the story I already knew that something awful will happen and even though I had time to prepare for it, it crushed my heart when I read it."





Author
James Patterson

First published in
2001

Publisher
Headline

Characters
Katie Wilkinson: she is a senior editor at a publishing house in New York that specializes in literary novels and poetry. This is also where she first met Matt. She originally came from North Carolina where her parents still lived and with whom she still has a very close relationship. She is a fighter who always had the courage to do what she had to do.

Matthew Harrison: he is a house painter in Martha’s Vineyard and in his spare time he writes poems. His father, a doctor, died when he was only eight years old. He was hurt badly by his sudden death as he never had the chance to say goodbye to him. From then on, he’s terrified he might lose someone he loved.

Suzanne Bedford: she was a physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. At 35, she had a heart attack. While she was recovering from it, she had time to think for the first time about her life. Her boyfriend dumped her not long after her attack. That’s when she decided to leave Boston behind her and start afresh as a country doctor in Martha’s Vineyard where she had spent her summers with her grandparents.

Summary
Katie Wilkinson found herself to be in seventh heaven when she was together with Matthew (Matt) Harrison. To her, their relationship was perfect. He was a good listener and thoughtful. They had the same interests and he made her feel at peace with herself. Basically, Matthew Harrison was The One for Katie Wilkinson.

After eleven blissful, glorious months though, Matt had ended their relationship, offering no reason whatsoever. Katie was devastated and had never been so hurt in her life for she had lost the only man she had ever loved.

The next day, she found a package at her front door. Great was her surprise when she recognized Matt’s handwriting on it. Inside, there was only a small diary with a note on the first page from Matt. He asked her to read the diary because it will explain why he had to break up with her. The diary is about his wife and son, and him… On the front cover, there’s written Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas.

She knew Matt had a wife called Suzanne, yet he had sworn that they weren’t together anymore. And that was it. That was all she knew about Matt’s past. As open as she is about hers, so closed is he about his past. This was the only thing they had arguments about. Soon, Katie discovered that Nicholas was actually Suzanne’s and Matt’s son. This came as a huge shock to Katie for the day that Matt had left her; she planned to tell him that they were expecting a child together.

The diary was written by a new mother as a memory for her baby son in whom she confided all her secrets. She told him how she met is father, how their romance developed into a fairy marriage that was blessed with a baby. Of course, she has written down everything that has to do with Nicholas. Next to all the wonderful things, she also wrote about her heart disease and the loss of her second baby due to her weak heart. Then the diary ended abruptly with Matt writing the last entries instead of Suzanne.

Finally, Katie learnt the truth about Matt’s past and the burden he’s been carrying with him ever since. Now she fully understood, it’s time to go look for him.

Favourite paragraphs
p. 24 The story of the five balls: Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day, you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls - family, health, friends, and integrity - are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginnings of balance in your life.

p. 109 Diary entry: I hope when you grow up that everything you want comes your way, but especially love. When it’s true, when it’s right, love can give you the kind of joy that you can’t get from any other experience. I have been in love; I am in love, so I speak from any other experience. I have also lived long periods without love in my life, and there is no way to describe the difference between the two.
We is always so much better than I.

p. 129 Diary entry: Matt: Well, I can’t help thinking of this whenever we’re together. I think, isn’t it lucky that Suzanne didn’t die in Boston and we have today to be together. Now we get to watch this sunset. Or isn’t it lucky that Suzanne didn’t die, and we’re sitting out on her front porch playing hearts or watching a stupid Red Sox game. Or listening to Mozart, or even that smarmy love song you like by Savage Garden. I keep thinking, isn’t this day, this moment, incredibly special, because you’re here, Suzanne.

I had started to cry, and that’s when Matt took me into his arms. We cuddled on the beach for a long time and I never wanted him to let me god. Never, ever. We fit together so well. I kept thinking, Isn’t this moment incredibly special? Aren’t I the lucky one?

p. 224 Diary entry: I did a strange thing, then, and I’m not exactly sure why. I knocked on the door, and I knelt on the first step. Maybe I was tired and drained from the long, stressful day. Maybe it was something else, something more important, something I still can’t explain.

Maybe I was remembering the English king who had knelt in the snow hoping not to be excommunicated, and to be forgiven by Pope Gregory.

I had been hurting badly out on the beach, but I also knew I had acted selfishly, I shouldn’t have run away and left you and Matt alone at the house.

‘Forgive me for running off like that,’ I said as Matt opened the screen door. ‘For running away from you. I should have stayed and talked it out.’

‘You know better,’ he whispered and gently stroked my hair. ‘There’s nothing to forgive, Suzanne.’

Matt pulled me to my feet and into his arms. A feeling of relief swept through me. I listened to the strong beating of his heart. I let him snuggle the top of my head with his chin. I let his warmth seep into me.

‘It’s just that I want to keep this baby, Matt. Is that so terrible?’

‘No, Suzanne. That isn’t terrible. It’s losing you that I couldn’t bear. If I lost you, I don’t think I could live. I love you so much. I love you and Nicky.’

Favourite quotes
p. 119: Bad stuff happens. Sometimes it makes no sense at all. Sometimes it’s unfair. Sometimes it just plain sucks.

p. 192: One today is worth two tomorrows

p. 290: The longed-for ships.
Come empty home or founder on the deep.
And eyes first lose their tears and then their sleep.

My opinion
For a long time I’ve been hearing good reviews on James Patterson’s books, but I never seem to come around reading them. Then recently, I found this book in the library and I simply had to take it with me. My expectations were quite high before reading Patterson’s books as my friends kept on telling me how lovely his writing is or how wonderful his stories are. I’m glad to be able to tell you that “Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas” didn’t disappoint me.

This is a love story that has managed to touch my heart. Throughout the story I already knew that something awful will happen and even though I had time to prepare for it, it crushed my heart when I read it.

It is written in a simple and sweet way and I could actually feel the love between Suzanne and Matt. They had this perfect relationship that I think a lot of people will envy them for, they knew they loved each other and that’s what really counted for them. No doubts, no jealousy, no complexity, just happy to be together and to share their life.

And then their blissful life ended abruptly, it felt so wrong and I couldn’t help but feel indignant about it. It was so unfair that that had to happen to them. That fatal day begun so well, preparing the celebrations for Nicholas’ first birthday. Suzanne went into town to get Nicholas’ present and on the way, she had a heart attack. Her car dropped into the water and landed on its side. It wasn’t until two entries further that I found out that Nicholas was in the car as well. My heart immediately went out to Matt. How can one grasp this kind of news? God, I can’t imagine what was going through him when he was told that the two most important people in his life weren’t there anymore.

The short extracts provide for a fast pace, but because of the gentle writing style it doesn’t come over as harsh and abrupt. The plot may sound predictable to some, but some parts have enough suspense to keep you reading and that may surprise you, or not. It did surprise me. Of course you can’t compare this suspense with the kinds in his detective stories. This isn’t a mystery and it’s intention is not to surprise the readers.

Cynics will probably find the characters too sweet, too unbelievable and too perfect. And in a way perhaps they are, but as a romantic girl it presents me with hope. Hope that such people do exist, that the world hasn’t completely turned cold.

What I find to be most interesting is the story of the five balls. It talks about the pressures of modern life. Something that’s very typical for our generation. We all want so much that we are constantly juggling with friends, family and work/school to fit them in our diaries. But do we really stand still and just enjoy it? Probably not, cos we have to rush to our next appointment. Something dramatic always has to happen to open our eye. Luckily this book can also serve as a wake up call.

Verdict
I would definitely recommend this book, especially to those romance lovers. This is one book you must not miss.

Rating


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