The Lucky One – Nicholas Sparks


After reading Nicholas Sparks’ The Lucky One, I really anticipated that the movie adaptation would follow the novel pretty precisely. The story is a rather simple one that is almost completely character driven, and I did not think that much would need to be rewritten in order to translate it to the big screen. For this reason, I was rather surprised at how much was different between the book and film versions of this story. Both events and characters were changed, and I cannot say that I am a fan of any of the changes.


Theatrical release cover

For me, the biggest difference between the two versions was the character of Keith Clayton, Beth’s ex-husband and Ben’s father. The Keith of the novel is a far darker character. Readers first meet him as he is secretly taking pictures of college-aged girls as they sunbathe naked in the woods and his character only becomes more unlikeable from there. Readers are able to get an insight into this character through the chapters written from his point of view and it is clear that he has a twisted sense of ownership over Beth. He thinks that she is controlling and irritating, but he convinces himself that it would be right for Beth to continue to be his sexually. He also has a deep loathing for Logan, which is established when Logan catches him spying on the naked girls and then slashes Keith’s tires (and all of this occurs before Logan even meets Beth). Additionally, his relationship with Ben is much worse in the novel. Keith has Ben every other weekend and makes him spend a large chunk of his time with him doing the chores he does not want to do himself. He is also very hard on Ben and Ben dreads visiting his dad, which is very different from the excited little boy who runs into his dad’s arms in the movie.

Another big difference between the two versions is Zeus, Logan’s German Shepherd. Zeus is a big part of what bonds Ben to Logan in the novel and his presence is notable throughout the novel. In fact, it is Zeus who saves Ben from drowning at the end of the story and not Keith and Logan. Keith shows that he does truly love his son in the novel when he dives into the raging river waters to save him, but that is the extent of his redemption in the novel. Keith and Logan become caught together in the river and it is unclear how exactly he dies.

There are many other differences between the individual characters (for example, a lot of Nana’s spunk is lost in the film), but beyond specific characters, the love story itself has a very different feel to it. Perhaps this is due in large part to the fact that readers are able to get inside the heads of Logan and Beth as they develop feelings for one another, but there is more to it than just that. For me, the love between the two lost a lot of it credibility because of the change in the timeline of the story in the film version. In the novel, Logan and Beth reconcile after their big fight about the picture before Ben almost drowns and Keith dies. Having their love not be reignited by the tragedy made it seem much more real and less contrived, and certainly it helped take away some of the awkwardness of watching Logan so clearly take Keith’s place after he died. Overall, I thought this was a sloppy adaptation of a novel and that too much was unnecessarily changed.


Book Vs. Film Facts

  • In the novel, the picture of Beth shows her wearing a t-shirt that says “LUCKY LADY” at a fair with a German Shepherd (this is why Logan buys Zeus in the novel).

  • Logan finds the picture on one of his morning runs while in Iraq (novel) rather than in the rubble after a firefight (film).

  • The Logan of the novel has long hair.

  • The movie portrays Logan as suffering from PTSD, but this is not the case in the book.

  • The movie shows Logan on numerous occasions trying to tell Beth the truth about the picture. The Logan in the novel does not and actually avoids questions that would reveal his secret.

  • In the book, Ben is hurt by the baseball when his dad throws it too hard at him and not during a baseball game.

  • Logan does not fix up a boat for Beth in the novel.

  • Keith and Logan are not the ones to save Ben in the novel. Rather, Zeus is the one to save him.

  • There is no revelation about Beth’s brother, Drake, in the novel. Logan never came into contact with Drake as far as he knows.

Rating (match to book) – 5

The overall storyline was the same between the novel and the film. Certainly, both were about a Marine who had fought in Iraq and found a picture of a girl he did not know who he then seeks out and falls in love with. Beyond that and the names of the characters, many of the small and big details were changed. All of the main characters in the film were at least a little, if not very, different from their book counterparts and the events themselves were typically very different and often told in a different order.

Which was Better?


I’ve Seen the Movie – Should I Read the Book?

Yes. If you enjoyed the film, you will enjoy getting a deeper look into the motivations and feelings of the characters. The characters are a little more one dimensional in the novel since they come across as unnaturally flawless for the most part, but I felt the love between Beth and Logan far more in the novel than I did in the film.


I’ve Read the Book – Should I See the Movie?

No. For me, the film adaptation did not add anything to the novel. Maybe my experience would have varied greatly if I had seen the movie before reading the book, but having read the book first, I found the movie to be flat. I did not like what the film did to the characters, especially Keith Clayton, and I did not feel like being able to see the story being acted out made the story feel any more real.



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