Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

About the Book:
Author: Nicholas Spark
Publisher: Grand Central Station
Publication Date: 2010
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 

Review: Frightened for her life but without the means to be a self-sufficient woman prompts Katie to finally run from everything she knows after an entire year of careful preparation. Ending up in a small Southern town that is more a tourist hangout than a place to put down roots, Katie begins a new job while catching the eye of the local shop keeper, Alex. Widowed and raising two kids, with a past in law enforcement, Alex has a keen sense, and he knows Katie is hiding from a past – and the threat is a danger that still frightens her. Paralyzed by the life she left behind, Katie’s resistance to Alex is soon challenged when she slowly finds herself relying on his protective embrace and her heart is lost to his two children, all of which is threatened when her past rears its ugly head. 
If Nicholas Sparks were to be found in the dictionary, his name would be synonymous with the words, romance (that one should be obvious), beach (his settings always involve one) and tragedy (cruelly he has a penchant for breaking the reader’s heart as well as his protagonists). In the pattern that has become his stories, so much of the plot involves secrets and a leading couple who go through multitudes of issues and mentally, free-falling emotions that engage not only them but the reader just to be left wondering if the couple even have the promise of one day being together – and even then, sometimes, the lovers are parted. Fortunately, I’ve gone two-for-two which chose a happier approach (but to be fair, I should confess that I cheated, knowing that was to be the case). Safe Haven is only the second novel I’ve read and were it not for such a lackluster ending, I’d have quite adored this book. It’s different with its hints of mystery and a frightened heroine who sees potential danger in every shadow, something that not only grips the reader but heightens in us a sense of awareness.  

As always, Sparks provided compelling characters. Katie, Alex and his two small children captivated me. I didn’t want to quit reading of their delightful adventures and felt satisfied with so many of the story elements. This included an above-board romance (though not for the “right” reasons) in addition to a prose that entices, enchants and engages. Each of the chapters further develops the characters though the prose is a bit flawed – or perhaps it’d be the way the story is told that is most at fault. Multiple chapters re-count one event, making certain moments far too long then there is the switch from two POV’s to three midway through plus Katie’s wrenching narrations of her past life. During these portions and approximately three-fourths of the way through, Katie’ personality seems to become less of the kind-hearted woman we’ve come to love. While she remembers that past, it wrecks havoc with the reader’s feelings to experience first-hand the things she did and dealt with in order to make life “easier.” Because of that, the book is less romance and wonders into more of a mysterious territory which is said to be a departure from normal for Sparks. Indeed the book did read differently.  

Common as this story may be, it’s a hard look at the touchy topic of abuse while keeping pace with some lighter, happier moments that balances everything really nice. The ending does sneak up on us and that lessens the sense of that "warm, fuzzy feeling" a happy-ending girl like me appreciates. By the end of the book, I was impressed. Perhaps the plot wasn't as unique as it could have been or the character's were sometimes stilted and still, for a Nicholas Sparks novel, it’s a keeper.  

Parental review: Profanity is rare with few uses of commonplace words like sh*t, da*m, etc. At least two sex scenes are described – both being an act meant to pacify a man with a short fuse. Elsewhere there are some mild innuendoes; a woman teases a man with a promise of a night of intimacy. Tense moments include a fire and implications as well as scenes involving physical abuse.  

Synopsis: 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. - publisher synopsis


  1. I have never read any of Nicolas' books. Do I want to? Sure! Yet, I never seem to remember to place a hold at the library or figure out which I want to read... :-)

    1. That is a dilemma, Rosie - I judge by the ending being happy or bittersweet. ;)

      Hey, if you'd want to read this book sometime before the DVD release but don't want to have to return it in a set time frame, I'd be happy to lend you my copy. It's one I will re-read but not in the near future. :)

    2. That's a good point... :)

      Aw, thanks!! That is so sweet! Could I get a rain check on that offer in two months when I'm not swamped with review books? :-)

    3. Given his propensity to break reader's and character's hearts, it seems the best bet. :)

      Sure! Totally understand that feeling - I'm about to have that! LOL! Anytime, just say so. :)

    4. Yeah. I pretty much cried when I thought Dear John (the movie) wasn't going to end happy. lol!

      I will! :D Thanks again!

    5. That was a close call! Fortunately its open-ended conclusions is one we can write our own ending too. :)

      Sure, anytime. :)

  2. Thanks for the review. It covered pretty much everything I was curious about (I like when there's a plot synopsis at the end-- but in small print as to avoid spoilers for those who don't want them).

    1. Glad it was helpful, Rachel. If you had any specific question that wasn't answered, feel free to ask. :)

      Thank you for reading! :)

  3. Knowing the movie was coming out, I've been curious about this one. I looked at it in Target one day, but I think I'd better check the library first. Nice review! :)

    1. Sometimes that is the better bet, Kara. Given my spoiler-crazy personality, I sort of knew I'd like it considering I'd read one of his books and it ended okay. Having said that, in one instance, the book is morally better than the movie although it still has PG13 content.

      Hope you enjoy - let's chat about it if/when you read it!

  4. 'If Nicholas Sparks were to be found in a dictionary...' What a great review starter and so true!!

    1. LOL! Those seemed to fit him to a T. :)

      Thanks for reading, Birdienl.


Have a thought? Don't be shy, go ahead and leave one... or two... or three! I reply to every comment. If you're new to the blog, please don't hesitate to introduce yourself and your blog - we love chatting around here!

Feedback and every comment is appreciated and read - I always leave a response; your opinions are respected and I ask that you show mine the same courtesy.

(If you post under “anonymous,” please leave a name. If you don't have a Google account, you can type your name into the Name/URL and if you have no site, just leave "URL" blank.)

If you are still reading my ramblings, thank you for following this little blog and for being one of its supporters. I’ve enjoyed getting to know each of you, friends!

Latest Instagrams

© Finding Wonderland. Design by FCD.