“First you will smile, and then you will cry—don’t say you haven’t been warned.”
The narrator, Landon Carter, addresses the reader at the end of the prologue. He is referring to the story he is about to tell.
“With Jamie, everything was in the Lord’s plan. . . . She always mentioned the Lord’s plan whenever you talked to her, no matter what the subject. The baseball game’s rained out? Must be the Lord’s plan to prevent something worse from happening. A surprise trigonometry quiz that everyone in class fails? Must be in the Lord’s plan to give us challenges.”
Landon describes what he sees as Jamie Sullivan’s excessive religiosity. This is before he gets to know her well and comes to appreciate the value of her faith.
“Though I was probably the richest kid in school, I was by no means the most popular.”
Landon offers a shrewd piece of self-analysis. His family is wealthy, but he knows he is not an outstanding individual in any way. He is more of a follower than a leader.
“You have to promise that you won’t fall in love with me.”
Jamie speaks to Landon after she agrees to go to the dance with him. He thinks she is making a joke and that there is no chance of something like that happening. Of course he does falls in love with her, although it takes a while, and he also finds out that Jamie knew he would.
“‘I want to get married,” she said quietly. ‘And when I do, I want my father to walk me down the aisle and I want everyone I know to be there. I want the church bursting with people.’”
Jamie answers Landon’s question about what she wants to do in the future. She adds that it is the only thing she wants. At the time Landon does not know she has a fatal disease. Jamie eventually gets her desire fulfilled in exactly the way she wanted it—thanks to Landon.
“It just gives me a way to . . . be a part of her.”
Jamie speaks to Landon. She is explaining why she also carries an old Bible with her. The Bible belonged to her mother, who died giving birth to Jamie.
Landon speaks in his role as Tom Thornton in the school play. He has just seen the angel, played by Jamie. Jamie is in a long white dress with her hair down, and she looks angelic. Landon has been having difficulty in rehearsals saying this line in a convincing way, but he is so stunned by Jamie’s appearance that he now speaks the line with absolute sincerity and wonder.
“. . . my breathing suddenly went still. I looked at Jamie, then up to the ceiling and around the room, doing my best to keep my composure, then back to Jamie again. She smiled at me and I smiled at her and all I could do was wonder how I’d ever fallen in love with a girl like Jamie Sullivan.”
This moment comes toward the end of Christmas Eve. Jamie and Landon are at the orphanage, having spent a perfect evening together. Landon at last realizes the full extent of his feelings for her.
“I’m dying, Landon.”
Jamie finally discloses her condition to Landon. She has leukemia. She has put off confiding in anyone as long as she could, wanting to live as normally as possible during her last months. Her words stun Landon, but he proves faithful to her and even marries her, despite her fatal illness.
“It was, I remembered thinking, the most difficult walk anyone had to make.
In every way, a walk to remember.”
Landon, writing about Jamie’s struggle to walk down the aisle at her wedding. It was this line that provided the book with its title.