Ira and Ruth, Luke and Sophia – two couples separated by time and age – have little in common until a series of unexpected events are set in motion and their lives become intertwined. From New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks comes an extraordinary love story that begins when a box of old letters, filled with a lifetime of love, wisdom and experience, set Luke and Sophia on a path to discover their true values and the real meaning of love.
Sophia (BRITT ROBERTSON), a senior at the University of Wake Forest, sees her lifelong dream about to come true. With just weeks to go until graduation, she has landed an internship with a prestigious New York art gallery. Sophia is on her way. That is until a friend barges through her door with a pair of cowboy boots and an invitation to a bull riding event. Though not her thing, Sophia relents and the two friends make their way to their seats, past the band of female fans known as Buckle Bunnies.
In the chute, Luke Collins (SCOTT EASTWOOD) prepares to ride the eight seconds that will put him back on the road to the top spot on the Professional Bull Riding circuit. Returning from a serious injury suffered during a previous ride on the world class bull known as Rango, Luke is determined to regain the riding championship. But the bull has other thoughts. He charges Luke, who climbs onto a fence and out of harm’s way. As his hat flies off and into a surprised Sophia’s lap, their eyes meet for a brief moment – just long enough for Luke to decide he wants to get to know this beauty. “Hold on to it for me, will ya?” he asks Sophia. And as the bull crashes into the fence, Luke is gone, leaving Sophia breathless.
That evening, Sophia, wearing Luke’s hat, runs into him, but instead of asking for his hat, he asks her for a date. She accepts, never guessing that the course of her life has changed and will become far removed from the one that she had imagined.
Ninety-one year old Ira Levinson (ALAN ALDA) is also on a life-changing course. Having lost his wife Ruth some eight years earlier, he begins a journey to Black Mountain, North Carolina and Black Mountain College, an art colony where he bought Ruth her first painting, starting a collection that would span the decades of their marriage.
Ira’s trip is interrupted when, on a rain-slicked road, he loses control of his car, crashes through a guard rail and down an embankment. As the car begins to burn, Ira is aware of someone pulling him from it. It’s Luke, with Sophia right behind him. Though semi-conscious, Ira can only think of the simple, worn box filled with letters left behind in the car. “The box; get the box,” he murmurs and Sophia braves the flames to rescue it.
Later, at the hospital, Sophia looks inside the carton and finds it filled with old letters. Ira is secretly pleased and asks her to read them to him. The two develop a bond and Sophia discovers how much the two couples have in common and how, in spite of the age difference, Young Ruth (OONA CHAPLIN) and Young Ira (JACK HUSTON) have lived a life filled with many of the challenges facing Luke and Sophia. The two couples’ lives will converge, providing the wisdom that will guide Luke and Sophia on their journey.