We’ve all been there. Post-breakup, a tub of Ben & Jerry’s in one hand, a box of Kleenex in the other, sobbing in the dorm while watching Miley and Liam reunite at the end of The Last Song. Nicholas Sparks and his stories are always our cinematic (or literary) shoulder to cry on when we need it the most. But what if his stories contribute to the very reasons we get our hearts broken in the first place? What if Mr. Sparks brainwashes us with deceptively destructive ideas masquerading as great, loud, tearful love? Whether you answer yes or no, here are some reasons to consider a different writer’s work after your next breakup.
1. He can’t write a story that doesn’t depend on the Christian faith
Some people believe that you can practice any kind of religion, or even no religion at all, and still be a good, worthwhile person. But not in Sparks’ world. I can hear you objecting, “But not all of the protagonists in his love stories themselves are pious Christians.” Perhaps you’re right. But somebody in their lives inevitably is. This person, typically the boyfriend or girlfriend’s parent, lights the torch that guides his or her child out of confusion and despair—with the help of a Bible verse or twenty. Now, when was the last time you consulted the Bible to help you understand why bae cheated on you with Becky with the good hair? Never? I thought so.
2. The couple always has fundamentally different beliefs and goals
I know it seems sexy and exciting to have a tumultuous relationship like Allie and Noah of The Notebook, Sophia and Luke in The Longest Ride, or pretty much any other couple in Sparks’ books. Sigh. Take it from someone who’s been there, that type of love is far from sexy. We all swoon when Noah shouts at Allie, “It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, everyday.” Cue eyeroll. But do you know what that’s actually like? “Working everyday” means arguing over every current political issue because you feel the Bern and he donated to Trump’s campaign. It means listening to hours of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the car on a road trip because it’s his car, when you just want to bump to some old-school Kanye. It means not even being able to watch TV together in peace because you realize winter is coming but she is convinced today is a great day to save lives. Think that sounds fun? I’ll tell you what it is—exhausting.
3. There’s always a critical blowout fight
Of course it’s natural and even necessary to fight in a relationship. But it’s still unnatural and unnecessary to have fights so huge that someone storms out, cuts off communication or tries to transfer to a different school. But in Sparks’ work, apparently, the more the love between the couple stretches and snaps, and the longer the time between the segments of their relationships grow, the stronger the bond must be. Sure, the relationship was easily and entirely destroyed in just a month, but it will surely re-ignite and survive in the midst of grad school applications, far off job offers and drunken indiscretions. Are you kidding me?
4. Relying on death, illness or injury to bring couples back together
Admit it. We’ve all fantasized, if I got hit by a bus, developed a concussion playing football or came down with pneumonia, would he or she come to the hospital to see me even though we’ve broken up? Would seeing me so vulnerable and hurt change the outcome of the relationship? Honestly, people suck and are more likely to skip class to go to Five Guys for a burger than to visit you in your hospital gown, despite the easy access. But Sparks’ world spins on a different, kinder axis. In his books and movies, the formerly furious ex-bae races back, valiantly, to the side of the person he or she left months ago because death, illness and injury remind us that life is fleeting. IRL, though? Don’t even expect a text message. Plus, it shouldn’t take the appearance of the Grim Reaper to convince someone they love you in the first place.
5. Giving up your dreams for love
Sparks’ solution to romantic issues often distresses those of us who have put caffeinated sweat and exam-week tears into our educations and internships. We have dreams, and they’re big—just as they should be. But operating off Sparks’ standards, you should throw all those aspirations away for someone you dated when you haven’t even graduated high school or college yet. Although that sounds adorable written on paper or portrayed by Hollywood’s finest, this scenario doesn’t seem to pan out perfectly in real life. Seriously, look up the success rate of high school relationships that turn into marriage. Absolutely dismal. And can you guarantee that you wouldn’t hate the person who came between you and your stint in the Peace Corps., or becoming partner at a top law firm? Yeah, I freakin’ hope not.