A Walk to Remember is a romantic novel set in the late 1950s. It follows the story of teenager Landon Carter, who unexpectedly finds himself falling in love with Jamie Sullivan, the local preacher's daughter. Though the two clash at first, they each begin to realize their true feelings for each other as they star in the school play. Their budding romance is interrupted by Jaime's terminal leukemia, but Landon's continued dedication to her make this remarkable love story a classic.
The story starts with a prologue from Landon Carter at age 57. The remainder of the story takes place when Landon is a 17-year-old high school senior. Landon lives in the small, religious town of Beaufort, North Carolina. His father is a genial, charismatic congressman.
His father is not around very much, as he lives in Washington, D.C. Landon is more reclusive, which causes some tension in their relationship. Landon's father pressures him into running for class president. His best friend, Eric Hunter, who is the most popular boy in school, helps him and, to his surprise, Landon wins the election. As student body president, Landon is required to attend the school dance with a date. He asks many girls, but none are available. That night, he looks through his yearbook, trying to find an acceptable date. Since nobody else seems to be available, Landon reluctantly asks Jamie Sullivan, the daughter of Hegbert Sullivan, the Beaufort church minister, who accepts his invitation. While Jamie is very religious and carries a Bible with her wherever she goes, Landon (one of the popular students) is reluctant to go to the dance with someone like her. When Landon is threatened by Lew, Jamie comes to Landon's aid, to his appreciation. At the end of the night, he admits she was the best date possible.
A few days later, Jamie asks Landon to participate in the school's production of The Christmas Angel . While Landon is not very enthusiastic about participating, he agrees to it anyway. Jamie, on the other hand, could not be happier about her new cast mate. Landon knows that if his friends learn about his role in the play, he will be teased relentlessly. One day at rehearsal, Jamie asks if Landon will walk her home, after which it becomes routine. A couple of days later, Eric mocks the couple during their walk home and Landon becomes truly embarrassed to be with Jamie. Meanwhile, Landon continues to learn about all the people and organizations Jamie spends her time helping, including an orphanage. Landon and Jamie visit the orphanage one day to discuss a possible showing of The Christmas Angel , but their proposal is quickly rejected by Mr. Jenkins. When Jamie and Landon were waiting to meet Mr. Jenkins, she tells Landon that all she wants in the future is to get married in a church full of people and to have her father walk her down the aisle. While Landon thinks this is a strange wish, he accepts it. In truth, he is beginning to enjoy his time with her.
One day, while they are walking home, Landon yells at Jamie and he tells her that he is not friends with her. The next day at the first show of The Christmas Angel , Jamie enters the stage dressed as the angel, making Landon simply utter his line, "You're beautiful," meaning it for the first time. Following that, Jamie asks Landon if he would go around town and retrieve the jars containing money collected for the orphans' Christmas presents. When Landon collects the jars, there is only $55.73, but when he gives the money to Jamie, there is $247. Jamie buys gifts for the orphanage, and Landon and Jamie spend Christmas Eve there. Jamie's Christmas gift to Landon is her deceased mother's Bible. As they get in the car to go home, Landon realizes his true feelings for her. "All I could do is wonder how I'd ever fallen in love with a girl like Jamie Sullivan." He invites her to his house for Christmas dinner. The next day Landon visits Jamie at her house, where they share their first kiss on her porch. Afterward, Landon asks Hegbert if they can go to Flavin's, a local restaurant, on New Year's Eve. While Hegbert initially refuses, after Landon declares his love for Jamie, Hegbert allows it.
On New Year's Jamie and Landon go to dinner, where they share their first dance. A couple of weeks later, Landon tells Jamie that he is in love with her. To his surprise, Jamie replies by insisting that he cannot be. In response, Landon demands an explanation, and Jamie reveals that she is dying of leukemia.
The following Sunday, Hegbert announces to his congregation that his daughter is dying. Jamie does not return to school the following Monday and that it is eventually learned that she is too ill and will never return to school. While they are having dinner at Landon's house, Jamie tells Landon, "I love you, too," for the first time. A couple weeks later, Eric and Margaret visit Jamie's house, where they apologize for ever being rude to her. Eric gives Jamie the $400 that he collected for the orphanage. Jamie refuses to stay at the hospital, because she wants to die at home. In turn, Landon's father helps to provide Jamie the best equipment and doctors so she can spend the rest of her life at home. This gesture helps to mend the gap between father and son. One day, while sitting next to Jamie while she sleeps, Landon comes up with an idea. He runs to the church to find Hegbert and asks him for permission to marry Jamie. While Hegbert is reluctant, his refusal to deny Landon's request is seen by Landon as approval. Landon runs back to Jamie's side and asks, "Will you marry me?"
Landon and Jamie are married in a church full of people. Although she was weak and was in a wheelchair, she insisted on walking down the aisle so that her father could give her away which was part of her dream. Landon remembers thinking "It was...the most difficult walk anyone ever had to make. In every way, a walk to remember." When they reach the front of the church, Hegbert says, "I can no more give Jamie away than I can give away my heart. But what I can do is let another share in the joy that she has always given me." Hegbert has had to experience so much pain in his life, first losing his wife, now knowing his only child will soon be gone, too. The book ends with Landon 40 years later at age 57. He still loves Jamie and wears her ring. He finishes the story by saying, "I now believe, by the way, that miracles can happen."