Veronica "Ronnie" Miller, the protagonist of The Last Song, comes of age in this novel, progressing from a self-centered teenager who is mad at the world — but mostly her parents — to a caring, mature young woman who finally learns to focus on her family, talents, and gifts.
At the beginning of the novel, Ronnie is a sullen recent high school graduate. She is not yet 18, so legally must abide by her parents' wishes. Ronnie has had a few shoplifting incidents, but generally stays out of trouble. Ronnie's parents are divorced, and Ronnie hasn't handled the situation very well. When her father left his family three years earlier, Ronnie blamed him. She quit playing the piano to get back at him, even though she is very talented. She also refused to see him when he visited or to read the letters he sent. Ronnie takes her parents' divorce personally and is unable to address her negative feelings towards her father.
Ronnie is sent to her father's house for the summer with her younger brother Jonah, but she is determined to not have a good time and to spend as little time as possible with her father. Subconsciously, she wants to hurt her father in retaliating for his leaving, but Ronnie also has a sensitive, softer side, which she occasionally reveals.
Ronnie moves toward maturity as the novel progresses. The Last Song is about growing up, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Only when she allows herself to accept help and criticism from others does she begin to change. But the maturation process is slow — it takes Ronnie the summer to learn this.
She also learns the value of love and faith. Throughout the course of the summer, Ronnie learns from family and friends, who serve as a catalyst for her growth. She learns the value of communicating from Will; from her father, she learns that love is more of a verb than a noun; and she teaches herself that when you take time for other people, other people will take time for you.