Author Nicholas Sparks is known for his novels full of star-crossed lovers, hard times, misunderstandings and bittersweet endings. Moviemakers have crammed every one of these into The Best of Me.

Dawson (Oklahoma City native James Marsden as an adult, Luke Bracey as a high school boy) makes a miraculous recovery after an off-shore oil platform explosion. When he gets a phone call from a legal firm, he must revisit the hometown he left years ago.

He quickly discovers his old high-school sweetheart Amanda (Michelle Monaghan as an adult, Liana Liberato as a teen) has been called back for the same reason — the death of a man crucial in both their lives.

Dawson and Amanda fell in love in high school. He’s the good-boy member of a family of drug-dealing white trash in a small Louisiana town, while Amanda is the daughter in a well-to-do family. Amanda is crazy about Dawson, who knows all too well he needs to stay away from her. As Amanda throws herself at Dawson, he leaves his family and is taken in by Tuck (Gerald McRaney).

Tuck is a widower, gardener and mechanic who helps Dawson grow into the man he will be. He likes both the teens and they find a friend who believes they can find a way to exist together despite the differences in their families. Their prom night spawns a series of events that change both of them forever and cause their 20-year separation.

Meeting again, their attraction is still there, but now Amanda has a son she loves and a husband she may not love so much. As they deal with their mutual loss and shared inheritance they realize they still love each other and that decisions must be made.

Anyone who has seen The Notebook will recognize many things in the plots of both movies, as well as the fact Marsden is in both. Most females of all ages who love romance and drama will love The Notebook” and will use it as a date night movie as well as a girls-night-out event. They should take tissues.

The ones who are familiar with Sparks’ works or who have a low “smarm” tolerance should wait and catch this movie at home.

I wish I had.