I'm writing this review to warn others about the content of this book. If you are a Christian, there are quite a few things in this book that may send up red flags, make you feel uncomfortable, or downright deceived if you thought you were reading Christian fiction.
First of all, God is mentioned scarcely and never with any sincerity of someone actually seeking him. Secondly, the thoughts attributed to the main characters show that they are openly thinking of sinning and there isn't so much as a mention of a check in their spirits because God wouldn't like their choices, or prayer, or really any mention of anything that shows they would resist temptation. If you don't believe in adultery or sex before marriage, there are some major red flags in this book where God never enters the picture.
Furthermore, there are some borderline sexually explicit descriptions that may offend some readers - as well as a few curse words, though well-placed in relevance to the climax of the story.
It also bugged me throughout the entire story that the two young children, who were supposed to be kindergarten and entering-kindergarten age, were represented by their words and actions as being much older. I am currently the parent of a 5 year old and even though my child is extremely intelligent and would test above average on most any subject, I still found the dialogue and actions of these 4 and 5 year old characters to seem "too old." In some scenes, they sounded more like my middle schooler.
But aside from all of this - getting to the last few chapters of the book and realizing God has been missing all along - there is something in the writing itself that really made me angry at having wasted my time on this book. Don't get me wrong, it was a thrilling story, but being a writer myself and having studied the craft of many other great writers as well, I learned long ago that if you are going to write a book that has elements of fantasy, that is, something supernatural, "magical" or unexplained in normal human terms, you need to drop hints throughout the book that this story may not all be realistic or could-actually-happen material. Otherwise, it really confuses the reader. Imagine watching It's a Wonderful Life without hearing God talk to the angel, Clarence, about his upcoming assignment, and then have Clarence suddenly show up and George is no longer George and nothing makes sense. That's what this book does.
This book felt deceitful at the end. It was so very grounded in reality - an abusive husband, the conflicting emotions of a battered wife, the grief of a husband and children who lost their wife and mother, etc. - serious, deep emotions - and yet in the last few pages, the author drops this bombshell of "fantasy" and it just didn't fit with the emotional journey the reader had been on for a few hundred pages. It was as though suddenly George had never married Mary or sang "Buffalo Gal Won't You Come Out Tonight" or had children including little Zuzu and yet you had no idea what happened to the story you'd been experiencing up until that point.
I am very disappointed with the ending of this book for that reason, as well as the fact that a key problem regarding the main character's identity was never resolved.
I can't give it the lowest rating because it was an inviting story. It's just that when some of the sexual material came up and things progressed and I realized I hadn't heard any character seeking God's wisdom, I started to feel like I wasn't reading a Christian book. By then though, I wanted to see how it ended, only to be thoroughly disgusted with the sudden fantasy ending.
Save yourself the trouble. Pick up anything by Lisa Wingate, Irene Hannon, Kathy Herman, Dee Henderson or Lynn Austin and finish the last page with a smile.
Review : Safe Haven - Nicholas Sparks - October 2010
Are you a fan of the happy ever after tales of love , not the soppy ones that never have or hit a bumpy spot but the ones that overcome all the obstacles and some of those obstacles are life-threatening and terrifying , that you can't imagine how someone would survive through it all . If so then this is a book , well I should rephrase myself and say that this is an author that you should add to your list to read , if you haven't already I suggest you get a move on as you are missing out big time. Nicholas Sparks is famous for the fact that most of his romance/drama novels have been or are being made into movies. So While I was reading Safe Haven I was picturing it as if it was a movie and who I would cast as certain characters etc, continue reading till the end to find out and if you have any actors/actresses in mind to play the roles please comment on this post . Back to the story , Katie is running away from her past and ends up in a small town called Southport , with no money etc Katie gets a job working as a waitress in a small town restaurant called Ivan's. As the story progresses we see a next door neighbour moving in Jo whom becomes Katie's close friend and Alex - the grocery store owner. As Katie starts to fall for Alex whom is now widowed with two little ones , her guard starts to slowly tear down but will her past come back to haunt her as she starts to develop a more intimate relationship with Alex and his children Kristen and Josh. Also characters are revealed as we discover the true identity of Katie aka Erin and Jo aka Carly Jo. A novel that shows that no matter what stands in your way or whom stands in your way, if love is meant to happen , then it will happen with the whole shebang - fireworks and an epic tale. If I was to make this into a movie , I'm thinking for the role of Katie/Erin - Natalie Portman/Julia Stiles , Alex - Hugh Jackman/Gerald Butler , Kristen and Josh - played by the girl who is going to be playing Reneesme on Breaking Dawn and her little brother , Jo/Carly Jo - Meg Ryan/Cameron Diaz.