"The rhythm method doesn't work" is one lesson that Nicholas learned from his mother. Early on in Chapter 1, Nicholas Sparks wonders about his parents' readiness for marriage, let alone their readiness for parenthood. He then recounts the history of his parents' relationship. They met at Creighton University, and before they knew it, Patrick Michael Sparks and Jill Emma Marie Thoene married and had three children in three years (curiously, all three had December birthdays, and both Nicholas and his younger sister Dana were born on December 31).
His parents moved near Watertown, Minnesota, when his father enrolled in University of Minnesota master's program. One of Nicholas' earliest memories is of running away with his brother and sister when they were all under the age of four. The end of that anecdote includes the mention of a flyswatter, an object that holds memories all of its own.
The final story from the chapter is one of Micah running away from their father, not wanting to get swatted. Hours later, a dirty but swat-free Micah returns home and goes to bed.
Chapter 1 begins the second narrative thread of Three Weeks with My Brother: the story of the brothers growing up together in a number of different cities and a number of different situations, but always together and always looking out for one another.
Nicholas Sparks again uses humor, this time remembering his parents and his early upbringing. Joking that all three children were accidents not only enables Sparks to seem more relatable, but also it demonstrates that nothing in his family history is off limits. In addition to creating a personable tone, the humor makes the memoir an enjoyable read.
Although he questions her readiness for being a parent, Sparks paints a very compassionate picture of his mother, because she is essentially alone and isolated while raising three kids in cloth diapers for two very long years.
Micah began to learn responsibility — as Nicholas believes all people must. This thematic statement is important because it presents the idea that responsibility is not something that one just magically acquires when it is needed or when you turn a certain age. And from an early age, Micah Sparks had been given many opportunities to learn how to be responsible. One of the reasons the Sparks children developed responsibility was something their mother often told them: "It's your job to take care of your brother and sister, no matter what." This quotation not only establishes her expectation as a parent but also created a mindset that would follow the siblings throughout their lives.
Stylistically, Sparks uses both literal and figurative imagery. Not only does his writing enable readers to know what he did, but also it enables them to experience things that he experiences, even something as simple as the popping of a balloon.
Nothing in Chapter 1 relates to the trip at all, and this indicates that the trip only plays a part in this memoir — and perhaps not even the most important part.
Balto Siberian Husky sled dog who led his team on the final leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome, in which diphtheria antitoxin was transported from Anchorage, Alaska to Nenana, Alaska by train and then to Nome by dog sled to combat an outbreak of the disease
How important was the choice of photos used throughout the book? Who chose them? Do you have a particular favorite?
Micah and I poured through old photo albums, selecting close to 30 photographs that were sent in along with the manuscript. In the end, though, my editor, Jamie Raab, selected the photos that were finally included. Because of the style, structure, and voice of the story, she didn't feel that it was necessary to include more. She thought it would weaken the narrative of the story, and both Micah and I understood her point. As for a favorite . . . no, I really don't have one. Each of them brings back a specific memory. And memories are the only way that my sister and parents still remain a part of my life.