Seeing the preview for the move Safe Haven was enough to send me on a detour from my Sci-fi/Dystopian reading marathon. I absolutely adore Julianne Hough and cannot wait for the movie to come out next month. I have to admit that while I’m a big fan of movies such as The Notebook and A Walk to Remember, I’ve never read a Nicholas Sparks novel. Before reading Safe Haven, I sort of expected the typical formulaic plot and cheesy romance that is standard of some prolific writers. It seems that when authors are churning out one work after another, the uniqueness and quality of work diminishes. However, I don’t believe that is the case with Mr. Sparks- this book was absolutely lovely.
Katie arrives in the coastal town of Southport scared, hungry, and traumatized; her only possessions are the clothes on her back. She’s able to get a job waitressing and rents a broken down cottage in the woods where she hopes to start over. It is through Katie’s retelling of memories that we learn the truth about what happened between her and her abusive husband, Kevin. It’s understandable that because of her past, Katie must guard her identity and her heart no matter what. Avoiding eye contact and keeping a low profile are just some of the defense mechanisms she uses to keep going. A new life and the promise of new love unexpectedly find Katie when she befriends the young daughter of Alex, a widower who runs the local grocery store. The loss of his beloved wife to illness has left Alex the single father of two young children. He runs the small convenience store just down the road from Katie’s cottage and immediately takes note of her guarded, broken demeanor. Having been a military investigator, Alex is familiar and able to recognize the signs of abuse. Though he’s attracted to Katie, he gives her the space she needs and slowly gains her trust. She can see that he’s a loving, kind human being by the way he interacts with his children and his customers. As their relationship blossoms and Katie lets down her guard, we, along with Alex, find that she is not only beautiful on the outside but on the inside as well. She’s funny, kind-hearted, and intelligent in all the ways that matter. I felt like I could relate to Katie as a woman and a human being. When we're hurt by someone we love, our first instinct is to pull walls around our hearts. Learning to trust again is no easy task. Katie becomes a shining example of human perseverance and strength.
A really interesting character to keep your eye on is Jo, Katie’s neighbor and newfound friend. Jo and Katie’s interactions tread a thin line between friendship and bothersome/nosy neighbor. Jo’s role in the story goes from minimal to front-and-center, so be ready to be stunned! That’s all I’m saying about that.
A tender, heart-string-pulling romance evolves as Katie and Alex come to terms with their heartaches. The threat of Katie’s ex-husband finding her looms over her head and makes for an intense story. You will definitely be on the edge of your seat as the plot unfolds. For that reason I am giving this book 9 out of 10 on the Page-turner scale.
As stated previously, the film based on this book is due out February 14. I can’t wait to see it, and I will definitely be picking up more novels by Mr. Sparks!