Summary: Love hurts. There is nothing as painful as heartbreak. But in order to learn to love again, you must learn to trust again.
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.
Source: I purchased a paperback
Nicholas Sparks is not my go to author typically. While I’ve enjoyed a few of his books, I’m typically mildly disappointed by the writing and overall execution of the story. Most of the time, I prefer the movie to the book. So I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed Safe Haven, even after seeing parts of the movie and totally spoiling the biggest twist for myself.
Safe Haven was great! It was pretty well written. It didn’t take long to get into the groove of the characters and understand who they were and what their motivations were. I liked Katie a lot and admired her for being so independent and brave. I thought Alex was a relaxed, laid back, and all around wonderful guy. He did a lot of things with his kids and his love of his setting made me appreciate the town of Southport. Watching Katie and Alex reluctantly fall for each other was sweet.
The romantic story in Safe Haven was captivating and wonderful, but it was not all there was to the story. In Safe Haven, Nicholas Sparks attempted something I’ve rarely seen from his novels. He created somewhat of a suspense situation by giving us the point of view of the person from Katie’s past. What he did with the character was awesome. Not only was on the edge of my seat towards the end of the novel, but his point of view was incredibly captivating. I loved the short and choppy thought processes he had as he struggled to merge the person he thought he was and who he thought Katie was with the person his anger created of both himself and Katie.
Nicholas Sparks often writes inspirational and spiritual romances. His frequent references to God and Christian principles can add a lot to his stories, but aren’t the things I necessarily look for and I find that his books can be a little strangely preachy as a result. So I was totally floored by the way he created a type of bad guy/villain who took Christian principles and Bible verses and twisted them in his screwed up mind to justify the way he acted and felt about certain behaviors. It was certainly not something I was expecting, but I really enjoyed the perspective. I thought it was refreshing and unique for Sparks to have a character who claimed to be a man of God and yet didn’t quite understand that his actions were the opposite of what any religious person would consider godly. I guess I just thought he’d always stick to the good stuff and I’m shocked and a bit impressed that he decided to take a different route.
There was a twist at the end that I enjoyed. I knew it was coming because I saw the end of the movie. I missed the beginning of the movie, so I was eager to see how the book would handle the situation and how it would do the twist. Some readers disliked the twist, but I enjoyed it and the letter at the end of the book and the movie made me tear up a little. The twist isn’t anything I believe could really happen, but I appreciate the whole full circle aspect of it and I thought it really brought the story together quite well. I recommend reading Safe Haven, even if you’re like me and don’t typically pick Nicholas Sparks books up to read. He has a few really good ones and this is one of them!