Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
Addition: Library hardback
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 am really glad I noticed this in the library. This is the latest novel from Nicholas Sparks and it is up to his usual high standard. We see love, fear, friendship, family and a controversial issue of domestic abuse.
The story follows Katie, a new girl to the small town of Southport. She turns up hungry, thin and desperate. She catches the eye of Alex, not only because she is beautiful, but because she looks scared. Alex used to be in the CID department of the Army and had learnt to read people – he saw the fear, although he didn’t know what she was running from. Slowly Katie gets ingrained in the small town, working in the famous diner and regularly shopping at Alex’s store. When his son falls into the canal, Katie is there to comfort his daughter – which starts their friendship. Another person who befriends Katie is her new neighbour Jo. Between Jo and Alex they bring Katie out of her shell and eventually, as she falls in love with Alex, she reveals what she is running from. The story follows her and Alex as they fall in love and Katie slips into the family, spending time with Alex and his children. She is being hunted however, and life might not always be happy or safe.
The blurb hints at a dark secret , but it doesn’t take long to see this is domestic abuse and that she is running from her husband. Around halfway through the book Katie reveals her real name and tells the story of her marriage, and her husband Kevin. What I liked is that after that we then follow Kevin’s story as well. We see what happens to him once he realises Katie is gone, his thoughts and feelings and his actions. I was intrigued that he regularly quoted Bible verses, even when he was in the wrong – it showed a very confused man. However, this does not excuse his actions. I did like that both sides of the story were told, it added depth and meaning to the story.
I liked the characters, especially Katie and Alex. I loved how delicate they were at the beginning, Katie because of her husband and Alex because of the death of his wife. They were careful and I liked how they didn’t just jump into a relationship, especially as there were small children involved. I was impressed that even though Katie had left Kevin she refused to sleep with Alex because she was still married. I thought Sparks was right to do that – it added integrity to the book and characters.
The ending of the book was so exciting! Kevin came and chased Katie. I was hooked and couldn’t put the book down once he discovered where she was. The ending was tense, but really good. There was a twist that I didn’t see coming and I enjoyed the ending. I was satisfied and gripped until the end.
This is a great book. The ending was fast moving and the storyline was lovely. I think Sparks dealt with the issue of domestic abuse and death very well. The characters were so easy to like and I was hooked to this book. I can’t recommend this book enough.