I requested The Haven from the library before it was released. While I was waiting to receive my copy, I read another of Carol Lynch Williams’ novels- The Chosen One. In that novel, Williams looks into the life of a girl living in a polygamist sect.
The Haven reminded me of The Chosen One. The Haven introduces the reader to Shiloh, a young girl who lives in Haven Hospital and Halls. The story takes place at some point in the future: the hospital was founded in 2020, but it’s not clear how many years have elapsed since then.
Shiloh is a Terminal. She lives with many other children, all of whom are also Terminal. They cannot leave the hospital because they are all sick, but they do not need to leave the hospital. All their needs are provided for; they go to school, receive medical care, and are taken care of.
There are hints that there is a dystopian undertone in the education that the children receive: the lesson in To Kill a Mockingbird is the dangers of what happens because Atticus Finch thought that all Whole people were equal. The lesson in Lord of the Flies is that Piggy deserved to die.
When Shiloh strikes up a (forbidden!) friendship with a boy named Gideon, she is introduced to a small group of students who question their purpose, and that of the hospital as well. What if Haven Hospital and Halls is not a sanctuary, but rather a prison?
I loved The Haven. As I mentioned, I immediately saw parallels between this and The Chosen One. In both books, the young female protagonists live in unusual circumstances and accept the things that happen in their lives because they know nothing of the outside world. They both begin forbidden friendships with boys, and they both begin to wonder about the world outside their enclaves.
I figured out the “secret” fairly quickly, but that didn’t diminish my interest in the book. I wanted to find out what was going to happen next, and what the implications of what was going on meant for our own future. Ethically speaking, it was horrific, but would this be a possibility in the future? It was very frightening to think about.
I would absolutely recommend The Haven. This was a quick read, but brevity has nothing to do with substance. This was a fascinating book, and Shiloh was an intrepid narrator. It was interesting to see her begin to process information independently, when so much of her life had been controlled before that point. If you would like some more information, you can find it here: The Haven: A Novel