Book Club: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

safehavenAbout Safe Haven

• Book Club: February 2017 
• Hardcover: 
340 pages
• Published: September 2010 by Grand Central Publishing
• Source: Purchased

Goodreads DescriptionLove 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.

My Thoughts

First of all, let me just go ahead and gag at the description. Then, let me admit that I flew through this book and stayed up until 2am to finish it. I mean, Nicholas Sparks is a bestselling author for a reason. While his books aren’t typically my cup of tea, whenever I do read one, I generally find it incredibly absorbing if for no other reason than he knows how to end a chapter.

Safe Haven is a story about Katie, a woman who’s fled from an abusive husband, and Alex, a man who’s doing his best to raise his two kids after his wife died from a brain tumor. Naturally, the two meet and fall in love, and life starts to look brighter for everyone involved.

Safe Haven is your standard, boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-finds-girl love story. Katie has a past, she’ll never love again, she can’t trust anyone, but Alex is determined and a good man. Lo and behold, Katie falls in love and trusts Alex. And then, her abusive husband shows up and tries to wreck the whole thing.

If this weren’t a Nicholas Sparks novel, I’d have considered that a spoiler, but really – are there any surprises here? (I didn’t think so either.)

Truthfully, Katie got on my nerves with her whole “I’ll never love again you don’t know my past” shtick. And Alex is such a cliched hero, patient and supportive and entirely unbelievable. They fall in instalove, of course, and suddenly everything is hunky dory. Katie can breathe and live and it’s all thanks to Alex and his love for her. Barf. There’s also some random weird religious overtones that came out of nowhere, and that was a big turnoff for me, mostly because it seemed more like a personal agenda than actually part of the characters.

I mean. Ok. It’s a Nicholas Sparks novel. Really, I feel like any criticism is a bit unfair, because….well, because romance novels are cheesy and ridiculous and the whole point of them is to provide the reader with a fairy-tale romance that makes you feel good. In that regard, Safe Haven succeeds.

Plus, I totally knew what I was getting into when I started it.

I didn’t hate it. Is it quality fiction? Nope. Is it entertaining? You betcha.

Book Club Discussion

We actually spent more time talking about how different the movie and book versions are – I haven’t seen the movie, but two of the girls watched it. I get that filmmakers take liberties with stories all the time, but the things they were telling me just didn’t make sense. Like changing characters’ names, putting important documents in a different building rather than in a safe (that’ll make sense if you read the book), and changing the order in which Katie dyes her hair – the book is blonde to brunette, and it’s apparently reversed in the film. Things like that don’t make much sense, and makes me wonder what the screenwriter was thinking.

We picked Safe Haven since none of us had ever read it, and we wanted a cheesy love story to contrast with Dr. Ruth’s book. We certainly got one. All of us enjoyed it, which is a little rare!

For March, we’re reading Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. I’m super excited about this one – it’s been on my list for a while!

3 stars