February Book-turned-Movie Review: Safe Haven

In light of Valentine’s Day this month’s book review is actually a movie review based on a Nicholas Sparks book, and since we have yet to review a piece of fiction, here we go!


(Very fuzzy picture of me with Nicholas Sparks in 2010, signing my copy of Safe Haven)

I am a self-proclaimed Nicholas Sparks fan. Without Nicholas Sparks I would never have added North Carolina to my relocation list after college or walked down the aisle at my wedding to a guitar-violin duo playing “Only Hope” (just like in A Walk to Remember). I’ve met him and had a booked signed by him twice. He lives about an hour or so away in New Bern, North Carolina, not everyone can say their favorite author lives that close to them! So, it only made sense that with Safe Haven being released into theaters on Valentine’s Day that this was where you would find my husband and I.


(image via Goodreads)

I had read Safe Haven awhile ago and thought it was a good story, something very different from the majority of Sparks novels. Sparks deals for the first time in any of his novels with domestic violence. Where the majority of the men in his novels are do-gooders and gentlemen, this is the first time we see a villan go to this extreme. Goodreads summarizes the book as such:

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.

When I first heard that Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel were going to star side-by-side in the Safe Haven movie I was almost as disappointed as I was when Miley Cyrus starred in The Last Song.


(image via IMDb)

However, I thought Josh Duhamel was the perfect widower, Alex. He seemed unsure, nervous, and clearly put the welfare of his children above his love interest. Julianne Hough on the other hand, I feel this role could have been cast better. Things I appreciated about Hough playing this role, they didn’t feel the need to doll her up. The roll of Katie was meant to be played by someone that was incredibly guarded and hesitant. I feel like during some parts the guardedness was really forced. Could this have been translated poorly for the big screen? Possibly. When I read the book I recognized something in Katie that I related to from past experiences and I didn’t feel like Hough could possibly do that role justice, despite rumors of her own abusive past. There was this scene when Alex and Katie first met and immediately were making googly eyes at one another. A women on the run and undercover making googly eyes at a random shop owner? Nope, sorry, that part was poorly written.

With that being said I actually felt like this was a good movie and the reason I say that is based on audience reaction. I feel like I would have enjoyed the movie more had I not known what was happening. Did I still tear up at the end when …. well I can’t say what happened, but I did tear up! There were also a couple of incredibly suspenseful or frightening moments and the audience was all over it. There was a moment where my husband and I literally jumped into the 8th row from the 2nd row, but that may have been because we were too close to the screen to begin with. This was an instance in which I wish I had watched the movie first, read the book second. I would have still said the book was better, but it did ruin things to know what was happening all along.

Either way I do recommend the movie, great chick flick, not disappointed enough that I couldn’t over look Hough’s poor interpretation of Katie. If you haven’t read the book, I actually recommend that you see the movie first and then read the book. If you’ve read the book first? Well, you’ll know what is happening all along, no surprises for you.

Got any book recommendations for March? Leave a comment below with suggestions!


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