By Jennifer Reese
November 01, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

Dear John

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In Nicholas Sparks’ plasticky new tearjerker, Dear John, Army boy John meets angelic college gal Savannah on a North Carolina beach and begins a crash course in true love. But while John cherishes Savannah’s old-fashioned virtues (she’s a chaste, churchgoing teetotaler) and she likens their meeting to ”pure white light, breathtaking to behold,” John’s prolonged post-9/11 absences gradually erode the relationship. He’s stationed in Iraq when he receives the titular kiss-off letter. We’re meant to share John’s sorrow at Savannah’s defection, but Sparks’ gooey vision of her character — part Doris Day, part Mother Teresa — may provoke other reactions to the breakup. Like relief.

Dear John

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