Author: Nicholas Sparks
Published: September 14, 2010
5 Gold Stars
(summary from Goodreads)
When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.
But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.
I quickly became a Sparks fan after reading The Notebook. I then decided his books would be all that I'd read for months. I got pretty far, finished all but five of them, before my heart couldn't take it anymore. So I stopped, for quite some time, so that I could repair the damage he had done. Now with a movie coming out for Safe Haven in February, I knew it was time to get back into the game. My heart was ready. I dove in preparing for the worse and came out with some tear shed but not the kind I expected.
Safe Haven takes a new turn that I have yet to see in any of Sparks' novels. Katie escapes to a small North Carolina town to hide from her abusive husband. Her plan is to stay low key, save up some money, and leave whenever she feels she's been there too long. But after meeting her neighbour, Jo, and the friendly and cute store owner, Alex, she quickly decides that this is where she should be. Soon she is falling in love with a wonderful man who treats her right and letting her guard down for once in her life. Things seem perfect and it's up to her to decide if this is the life she wants to live now. But her husband, Kevin, is a good detective and it's only a matter of time before he finds her.
This book kept me on the edge of my seat. Life in Southport seemed too perfect and I knew something bad was going to happen. I craved each page to see if Katie would get her happy ending. I cried when Katie told Alex the story of how she escaped, why she had to leave. The things that Kevin did to her are all too common in some marriages and I'm glad Katie was brave enough to leave him. I know it's hard to believe that someone you love would do horrible things to you, but some women live in fear every day. Katie finds a life where she is safe and loved and she deserves it more than anything. I prayed that nothing would happen to Alex's child, the only reminders of her deceased wife. The suspense kept it from being too mushy and romantic but don't get me wrong, there was a lot of that. This is a Sparks novel after all.
And it did not disappoint. The romance was slow and timid, both lovers having been through terrible things. They find hope with each other in the most believable way. I'm amazed that Sparks can take two ordinary people, in all situations of life, and create a fulfilling story that leaves you thinking about it long after you're done. He knows exactly what to say to pull those heartstrings and make the waterfalls flow. I'm excited to get back into his novels, I just need to take it slow. I can't overwhelm my heart like I did the last time.
“She wasnt exactly sure when it happened. Or even when it started. All she knew for sure was that right here and now, she was falling hard and she could only pray that he was feeling the same way.”
“I've come to believe that in everyone's life, there's one undeniable moment of change, a set of circumstances that suddenly alters everything.”