A Walk to Remember begins in retrospect: The narrator, Landon Carter, remembers his life 40 years earlier, when he was a young man of 17, living in the same small North Carolina town, which has changed substantially. Standing near a Baptist church, Landon recalls that the events that occurred that year changed his life forever and also changed the lives of those around him then. Readers are told that those events were both sad and joyful and that in hearing the story, they will both smile and cry.
Landon Carter is a complex character with a complex story to tell, a story that is larger than himself and encompasses an entire community. His North Carolina community, a place Landon refers to as "one of the most beautiful places in the world" is important to the plot. Landon's description of his town 40 years prior may sound bucolic, but readers understand this story is not going to be one of how wonderful everything was back in the day. Instead, readers are forewarned that this story is both sad and joyful.
The Prologue sets up the context of the novel — that it is going to be told in flashback, a literary device that allows a narrator to look back on an event and tell it from his current age and perspective. What is interesting about this flashback, however, is that it is not told from the perspective of a wider, older Landon, but instead uses Landon's voice, experiences, and perspective at the moment he was experiencing the events. In this way, readers get to see Landon's growth and development over his senior year of high school, by examining his voice and his responses to the events that occur during that year.
The theme of privacy appears here, when Landon acknowledges that his "lack of explanation" to those in the community who knew him 40 years earlier is respected absolutely. But Landon simultaneously promises readers that he will "leave nothing out of the story." Thus, Landon's readers are not asked to respect the privacy boundaries that characters in the novel are called on to do.
sinewy lean and strong.
The prologue begins, "When I was seventeen, my life changed forever." Do you believe it's possible for a 17-year-old to be so profoundly and permanently affected by the events in his life?
Yes I do. For Landon, seventeen was the age at which he first fell in love, the year he healed his relationship with his father, the year he graduated from high school and the year — we assume — that he experienced his first real tragedy. In that context, Landon's comment makes perfect sense. These things can and do happen, and can have a lasting effect on one's life.
How do you hope to be remembered?
I'd like to be remembered not only for my body of work, but for specific novels as well. Ideally, I'd like to be remembered in the same way as Stephen King, who defined and exemplified excellence in the horror genre in the late 20th and early 21st century. I'd like to be remembered as an author who defined and exemplified excellence in crafting the modern love story.