Summary and Analysis
The Prologue opens with a single-sentence first paragraph that states the genesis of the memoir: a brochure that Nicholas Sparks receives in the mail in the spring of 2002. Nicholas describes a typical day in his household and how this particular brochure, which advertises a three-week trip around the world, piques his interest.
Although he has an interest in going, he knows that his wife Cathy is unable to take a trip at this time, and initially he puts the brochure away. The brochure is out of sight but not out of mind, and Nicholas shares the information with Cathy, who expresses interest but sees it as unrealistic. Two days later, Nicholas broaches the topic again, and this time, he suggests that he take the trip with his brother, Micah. After a moment of silence, Cathy states, "I think that would be a wonderful idea."
That day, Nicholas calls his brother, Micah, who is interested but says that he must discuss it with his wife, Christine. Micah is enthusiastic about the trip and promises his little brother that this will be the "trip of our lives."
Even though the memoir is a joint effort between Nicholas and Micah Sparks, the Prologue establishes that Nicholas Sparks is the narrative voice of the text. From the onset, he establishes an informal, conversational tone.
There are specific characteristics of relationships that recur as a theme: the difficulty of living with an author, the uselessness of arguing, and the magic words that many women long to hear: "You're right, sweetheart." This tongue-in-cheek statement helps Nicholas demonstrate the nature of his relationship with his wife: He is comfortable enough with her to speak of sucking up when he really is not. He also uses sweetheart as a term of endearment. But Cathy responds to him sarcastically, stating, "You're such a big help around here" after Nicholas proudly announces that he helped by getting the mail that day. The casual conversational tone helps make their relationship more accessible to the reader.
Nicholas Sparks also reveals that "my wife . . . knows me better than anyone." This comment is telling as to the nature and status of their relationship. Cat understands the relationship between Nicholas and Micah, and, although the reader is currently unaware, she knows all they have been through and realizes that the idea to take the trip with his brother is an excellent idea for a variety of reasons. Cat's comment also suggests that this book is less about traveling and more about brotherhood.
Nicholas recalls the time a stranger questioned whether Cathy and Nicholas were insane for having five kids, and rather than be offended by the comment, Nicholas continues to refer to this question of sanity throughout the chapter.
The Prologue primarily provides exposition — answers to the reporter questions who, what, where, why, when, and how — for the entire text. For example, readers know that the "three weeks" of the title refers to a trip around the world that Nicholas Sparks takes with his brother Micah in early 2003.
In addition to providing exposition, the Prologue also provides a bit of foreshadowing, because Cat mentions that she thinks the trip is ideal for Nicholas to share with his brother; one can guess that there must be a reason why they need this time to be with one another, though the specifics are not revealed until much later in the narrative.
The Prologue also demonstrates the normalcy of the Sparks' life. Nicholas and his wife have a normal, if occasionally hectic, routine, receive junk mail, and experience typical frustrations. Nicholas Sparks has a nickname for his wife, Cat (short for Cathy), and Micah still calls his brother by his name's diminutive, "Nicky." Sharing these intimacies creates an understanding between author and reader, resulting in a trust and immediacy that does not exist in most fiction. A part of this intimacy is the obvious use of a first-person narrator: Unlike the narrator of a novel, the persona in Three Weeks with My Brother is not the creation of a literary artist but rather the writer directly sharing personal experiences and feelings from his life.
The Prologue ends with an overview of the entire text, indicating that Three Weeks with My Brother is about a physical journey — their three week trip around the world — as well as the metaphorical journey of their lives that ends with Nicholas and Micah Sparks becoming "the best of friends." This juxtaposition of journeys serves as an analogy for the Sparks brothers, who indeed are somewhat opposites themselves.
mayhem a situation characterized by confusion and noise
peruse to look at closely
Mayan related to the culture of a tribe of Central American Indians having an advanced civilization in parts now known as Guatemala and British Honduras
Incan related to the culture of a tribe of South American Indians found in Peru during the Spanish conquest
Polynesian Cook Islands an archipelago (group of islands) southwest of Samoa near New Zealand
Ayers Rock a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia
Angkor Wat a temple complex at Angkor, Cambodia, built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city
Phnom Penh, Cambodia capital city of Cambodia
Taj Mahal a beautiful mausoleum at Agra built by the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan (completed in 1649) in memory of his favorite wife
Amber Fort of Jaipur the ancient citadel of the ruling Kachhawa clan of Amber
Lalibela, Ethiopia a town in northern Ethiopia; one of Ethiopia's holiest cities and a center of pilgrimage for much of the country
hypogeum an underground, pre-Christian temple or a tomb
Northern lights the common name for a natural light display in the sky, particularly in the Polar Regions, caused by the collision of charged particles directed by the Earth's magnetic field
Arctic Circle line of latitude near but to the south of the North Pole; it marks the northernmost point at which the sun is visible on the northern winter solstice and the southernmost point at which the midnight sun can be seen on the northern summer solstice
cacophony disagreeable sound
bunco a parlor game played in teams with three dice
Micah receives a coauthor credit for this memoir, yet the voice is clearly yours. How involved was Micah in the authoring of this text?
Though the story is written in my voice, Micah was involved throughout the process. He wrote scenes that I edited, and he edited scenes that I wrote. We worked through the memories, trying to make them as accurate as possible. We spoke on the phone daily and shipped pages back and forth. Still, most of the final writing was mine for the reason that you mentioned: Both of us believed the memoir would work best if it came from a single voice.
You told Catholic Digest that Three Weeks with My Brother was your favorite among all of the books that you've written. Why?
I'm proud of the structure, style, texture, and emotional impact of the memoir, and I'm pleased that I was able to write a story about a normal childhood that kept the readers interested. There was a time in the publishing world when the only memoirs worth publishing, it seemed, were those written by celebrities or politicians, or those that chronicled childhood abuse. Although I suppose I am a celebrity of sorts, there's very little in the memoir about my being an author. It was included because it's part of who I am, but it wasn't what the story was about. This was a story about the importance of brotherhood; it was a memoir that was not only supposed to let others know about our family, but also to cause them to think — and remember — their own families and childhoods as well. I think this memoir does exactly what we set out to do.