Summary and Analysis
The Epilogue recounts the brothers' journey home. By this time, the two narrative threads have joined into one, and it is a chapter of reflection. Nicholas' thoughts are of his wife, his children, his parents, and his sister. Micah concedes that he is going to go to church with his family when he gets home, primarily to teach his children that "you're part of God's plan." He then credits his mother, stating, "Mom did it for us, and look how we turned out."
As the brothers' trip comes to an end, they realize that even though their parents might be considered crazy, "whatever they did, it worked." So, they will continue to cling to each other, because "it's the way it should be." They realize that this indeed was the "trip of a lifetime," and the memoir closes with the brothers in an embrace, each telling the other that he loves him.
Nicholas says quite clearly that he is "an optimist like my mom was," which helps to explain how he is able to survive and endure the multitude of tragedies that he has encountered. Even though Micah does not explicitly state it, his endurance in the face of these tragedies suggests that he is an optimist, too.
The final image demonstrates a bit of effective artistic license. According to the text, the brothers are hugging in a crowded airport, "oblivious to the crowd weaving around us." Yet, if they were oblivious, how would they know that there was a crowd weaving around them? The image of two brothers in a meaningful embrace is a physical representation of the deep and lasting emotional and spiritual connection that they share with one another.
At this point, the narrative has come full circle. The epigraph states that "a brother is born to help in the time of need." And by the time readers have completed the Epilogue, they know that the brother mentioned in the epigraph simultaneously refers to both Micah and Nicholas Sparks — they are brothers and friends who are loyal and always help the other in his time of need.
Three Weeks with My Brother is nonfiction, yet it is as easily read as any of your novels. Stylistically, do you see major differences between fact and fiction?
Stylistically, it's sometimes easier to write non-fiction because you're able to "tell" instead of "show." And yet, Micah and I wanted to create a poignant work of non-fiction, which meant that I had to draw on many of the lessons I learned in crafting a novel. There's a fine line between drama and melodrama; in that, writing non-fiction was exactly the same as writing fiction. It looks easy when you read it; trust me when I say it wasn't as easy to write it. Neither Micah nor I wanted to manipulate the readers; we wanted the events — and any emotion evoked — to speak for themselves.
In the prologue, you write that this is a book about brotherhood. Yet, after reading the memoir many readers may think that it's more accurate to say it's a memoir about all familial relationships. Would that be a fair assessment or should these readers refocus on the relationship with your brother?
The specifics of our past — that of Micah and I — necessitate that this memoir explore the concept of brotherhood. And yet, I understand the question being raised because it is, of course, also a story about family. It's a story about growing up, a story about parenting, a story about the obstacles of life and how we overcame them. Still, it's important to understand that one of the goals that Micah and I had while writing the memoir was to not only make it accurate, but to "evoke" the feeling of family that many people remember. Our childhood — though we may have had a bit more freedom than other kids — was otherwise ordinary. We weren't rich or famous; nor was our past littered with physical or emotional abuse. We succeeded and failed. We dreamed. We made mistakes and tried to learn from them. And we loved our parents and our sister. I think that's why so many people enjoyed the memoir. Because our childhood struck people as the same kind of childhood they remember.
In the words of Micah, "How's Ryan" today, six years since the publication of this memoir?
Ryan is doing well. He's 16, attending a rigorous college-prep high school (that my wife and I founded), he's getting good grades, and is driving. He has hopes and dreams and is going to attend college, just like his older brother. Watching him develop has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.