I have wanted to read a Nicholas Sparks
novel for a while now, mostly because he is so popular. What is his secret? So browsing through Amazon, a favorite sport of mine, I find Safe Haven
at the top spot for several days. Clueless me. I did NOT know it was a movie already. Note to self: idea for bestselling book. Write Book. Get Hollywood to make a movie out of it. Voila. Bestseller.
Not knowing it was already a movie, I figured this must be a good book so I get it. Warning, this review will have spoiler info. I don't use spoiler info on Amazon when I give a review because I often read reviews to help me figure out if I want to read the book, and if I know too much about what happens, it will spoil it for me. In my review here, however, I wish to expound on what I thought of the book, and maybe get some comments from others.
I liked the book. Nicholas Sparks has a nice writing style. By that, I mean his sentences flow easily. He sets a nice picture. There is enough description to set the stage, but not too much. The story starts out. I am expecting a "mysterious young woman" with secrets, but I'm not too far into the book when Katie confides in a neighbor. Katie has run away from an abusive husband. Katie is a likeable character, and she behaves like someone in her situation would behave. She keeps to herself, on the lookout for her husband, a detective, who has tracked her down before when she has left him. At this point I think the book is undeniably predictable. Katie will find true love. She does. Her husband will have to find her. He does.
So I'm thinking there will come a big show down and the only question is who gets hurt. The neighbor, living next door to Katie, might be an unintended victim if she steps in at the wrong moment.
The book did hold surprises for me. Not sure if this is true for all NS books, but this one did. I was right about the husband tracking her down. What I liked about how NS told the story was how he allowed us a peek inside the mind of the abusive spouse. In this way, as we watch Kevin sink deeper into his vodka and delusions, he becomes a real threat, but we also learn that he may have had a heart and been effected by his profession. Investigating murders and deaths of innocents has taken a big toll, perhaps prompting the beginning of the drinking. He never wanted to share this pain with is wife or anyone else. One aspect that did trouble me, however, was Kevin's abuse of the bible, finding justification for his violence and judgement. We are not given any information on where or when Kevin came to know the bible. Why does he cling to its verses? How did he mangle Jesus' message of love and mercy?
Katie has accepted her new life and relationship with Alex and his two children. Watching the children at their home one night while Alex is driving a friend to the airport, she dreams a warning about Kevin. Her neighbor, Jo, is waking her up and alerting her to danger. She awakes to find the house set on fire by a deranged Kevin. Katie is heroic, saving both children and escaping the house. Once on the ground she now must face the very real threat of Kevin.
NS is talented in portraying Katie as a woman who finds the courage to physically fight Kevin. I felt Katie was able to do this because she was protecting the two children. Did other readers feel that way, too? The final confrontation comes a short time later when Kevin knocks Alex out. Now it is again Katie facing Kevin. This time, we get the confrontation I knew would happen. Katie demanding answers of Kevin. "Why did you beat me?" Katie needed to ask these things, though at this point, Kevin is so psychotic no rational answers will be forthcoming. Katie has Kevin's service revolver. When Kevin attacks her, Katie is forced to shoot and end her persecution once and for all.
Okay, simple story, well told. Nothing too special here, I think. I'm a bit amazed how popular his stories are. I'm also surprised I have so much book left to read. I'm expecting a few page windup with the police telling Katie how brave she is, and Alex proclaiming Katie is now free to marry him. But no, there's more.
Katie returns to her cottage but is bewildered because the home next to hers, where neighbor Jo lives, is totally uninhabited and uninhabitable. Katie thinks she must be suffering from some mental disorder. What will people say if she explains how she talked to her neighbor, shared coffee, drank wine with her? Then she explains it away by understanding she simply used a childhood defense mechanism. She made up a pretend friend because she needed one.
Not so fast. Now that Alex and Katie are planning to make a new life together he reads the letter his late wife left him, with instructions to give an unopened letter to the woman he falls in love with. He takes the envelope and leaves it with Katie. When Katie reads the hopes and wishes of Alex's dying wife, she learns that all of the woman's friends called her "Jo."
I did not see that one coming, and I kinda liked it.
Is that how most people feel about the book? I thought the ghost angle was well played. Jo seemed like a real, flesh and blood person. Given that Jo turns out to be spirit or supernatural phenomenon implies there is an afterlife and one that can interact with our mortal realm. How does this effect people who believe in biblical authority?
I would enjoy reading others comments on this book or these themes. Happy Reading.