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Chapter 18 - The Choice

The Next Chapter Books & Art

In mid-April Dave and I spent a few days in New Bern, NC before heading to Fayetteville, NC for an event centered around his time in the Army (read Special Forces Berlin for more). We had never been in New Bern before although it is famous for being the home of, among other things, Nicholas Sparks. There is so much to see and do here and a very walkable town. New Bern is the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola as well as the home of the original capital of North Carolina. It rests on the convergence of the Trent and Neuse rivers, so it was an important riverfront town during colonial times. The town was originally settled by immigrants from Bern, Switzerland, thus its name - New Bern.

One of the things I always do when in a new town is check out the local book store. Here I found The Next Chapter Books & Art, a new and used book store, owned by Mary Jo Buckl. In her small but well-stocked store she is surrounded by used books, local new books, and beautiful art by local talents. The Friday night we were there (the stores in town stay open until 8:00 PM on Fridays) we met Maria Sendor, an artist originally from Poland who paints in watercolors.

The next morning I started thinking about books which either take place in North Carolina or that were written by North Carolinians. While you will not be surprised at some of the authors and books listed below, some you may never have read before. So here is my tribute to literary North Carolina.

The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks - This is probably my favorite Nicholas Sparks book. The story centers around Wilson Lewis and his wife Jane, the daughter of Noah and Allie of The Notebook. While he loves his wife very much and provided well for her and his family, he observes that the romance has gone out of their marriage. Wilson takes it into his own hands to win his wife back.

Serena by Ron Rash - Rash's book set in the North Carolina mountains in the 1930's balances ambition, corruption, and murder with passion and love. George and Serena come to North Carolina to start a timber business and soon it is clear that Serena is every bit as tough as George and his business partners. This is a satisfying North Carolina read.

The Last Child by John Hart - After Johnny's sister Alyssa disappears and his father leaves two weeks after her disappearance, Johnny tries to uncover the mystery of where each of them has gone. Another story with murder, greed, and a young man on a righteous quest, this book will capture you from the first page.

The Last Noel by Michael Malone - The Last Noel is primarily a book about friendship between two people from very different backgrounds. Noni and Kaye were born just hours apart, she in an upper class white family and he the grandson of her family's maid. The friendship they develop over 40 years is one of wisdom, understanding, and forgiveness.

Also, Mary Jo suggested I read...

Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey - "Khaki" Mason has it all, a wonderful husband, a beautiful son but, try as she might, she can't get pregnant again. Enter her husband's young cousin, pregnant and abandoned by her abusive boyfriend. Two women with seemingly not much in common but a lot of love to give. Their bonds of friendship and love make for a great story.

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