Safe HavenSafe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is my first Nicholas Sparks book.

I would like to start by saying that I went in as a blank slate. The “Lifetime Original Movie” type novel is my normal go to and I did not want to ruin the experience with assumptions.

My overall consensus: BORING.

But we will get back to that. Let us talk about the plot for a bit.

Sometimes starting over is exactly what a person needs. And I think it’s admirable. A lot of people don’t have the courage to do something like that.

There are two main concepts to this novel–starting over and escaping.

Katie is a girl on the run. To escape a past that haunts her, she traveled to a small town in North Carolina. Her primary goals are working, saving money, not creating ties, and being ready to bolt again at a moment’s notice.

Alex is a local store owner in that small town. Since his wife died, he has put all of his energy and efforts into caring for his two children and keeping the store solvent. An ex-Army man with a mission, Alex has got this lock, stock, and barrel. His primary goals are taking care of his kids so that they know they are loved, overcoming the loneliness his wife’s passing left, and getting in the confidence of the mystery woman who only buys beans and startles violently when an adult talks to her (that would be Katie.)

People hide the truth because they are afraid.

When an accident leaves Katie to realize that Alex is a man she could have loved, Alex finds an in to figuring out the mystery girl. Kind, considerate, patient, and slightly manipulative (but in a good way…an honest way), Alex continues to worm his way under Katie’s guard and into her life. Alex on the other hand is finding a woman he could love in a the gentle, skittish, and loving woman who smiles at his daughter and looks at him from the corner of her eye.

But as Katie’s past begins to catch up she realizes the dangers in caring. Both she and Alex will have to decide what is worth fighting for; and what they are willing to sacrifice to become a family.

This book had its ups. It had its downs. It was believable and you liked the “heroes” and despised the “villain”. Moreover Nicholas Sparks writes beautiful one liners. His words smooth together until you have read twenty chapters without so much as a hiccup in poor prose or hateful plot techniques.

So what was my problem? I will say it again: BOREDOM.

The characters lacked any real depth. While they were believable and more than superficial, at the same time they were not multifaceted or complex. She was running. He was trying to find her. The other he was trying to love her.

There was also no originality. This was a tried and true tale of an abused woman on the lam. I saw the movie with Julia Roberts way back when…same tale… really… JOBS,LOCATIONS, AND NAMES WERE CHANGED TO PROTECT THE IDENTITIES OF THE VICITIMS. Aside from a slight twist at the end, the rest was fairly predictable.

And last but not least in Katelyn’s monologue on boredom is this: every day life. They went to the grocery store. They went to work. They drank a lot. They cleaned the house. This book was made up of the long and drawn out details that consume our lives. You would get one paragraph of psychological intrigue and then two chapters of every day life and/or the thoughts inside someone’s head. While I do not mind a tale including everyday mundane, I have a problem with it being the crux of the plot. If I wanted to entertain myself with everyday chores, I would save myself the money of the book and do my own chores. Show me do not tell me…there was a lot of telling in this book.

I cannot even get truly worked up about the book as bad or good because I found it as an easy read that was wholly un-engaging. As a curiosity I did watch the movie to see how it compared. There were quite a few plot changes but it kept the original story intact (not hard to do…Julia Roberts’s Sleeping with the Enemy already laid the groundwork.)

This book is a good fit for those who want the darker side of life balanced out with the mundane details for everyday survival. As for me, I probably will not pick up to many more of Nicholas Sparks’s books. If I get the urge for some sanitized “Lifetime Original,” I will watch the movie instead.

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