Skip to main content

Readers' Comments for Leaving Haven

In July, readers in our Sneak Peek: An Early Look at an Upcoming Book feature won copies of LEAVING HAVEN by Kathleen McCleary, a provocative and touching novel about the intricacies of love, friendship and parenthood. We gave the readers a series of questions to gauge their reactions to the book, and here we share some of their comments to give you insight into the story. Be sure to watch out for SPOILERS!



Debra from Farmville, VA
LEAVING HAVEN is wonderful story of family, betrayal, forgiveness and relationships. The character I felt the most sympathy for was Georgia, but by the end of the book I was sympathetic towards both couples. I would recommend this book to any of the people I know.

Sharon from Jeffersonville, IN
LEAVING HAVEN deals with infertility issues, friendship, family, marriage, trust, betrayal and the difficulties associated with forgiveness when a person has been deeply hurt. I found it informative, intense and engaging as some of the situations evoked memories reminiscent of personal experiences. If I had to choose three words to describe the way I felt after finishing the book they’d be sad, challenged and hopeful. I found it strange that I felt most sympathetic toward the two men in the book --- John for being left out/used and Duncan because he was so unhappy in his profession. Generally I am more sympathetic toward female characters (I really felt sorry for Rita) but in this case, perhaps the men's experiences were closer to some of those I have experienced. I will probably recommend this book to most of my close friends and would have little hesitation in recommending this to my book club (ages 55-90 and primarily female) and/or any of those.

Nancy from Onalaska, WI
LEAVING HAVEN is the story of best friends Georgia and Alice and their families. Georgia desperately wants another baby and Alice donates an egg. At the beginning of the novel, Georgia has abandoned baby Haven in the hospital and taken off. Told in a past and present alternating sequence, Kathleen McCleary develops the characters, their flaws and their passions, as they live through and understand what has happened in their lives. At times I was sympathetic towards all the characters, even though I disapproved of some of their actions. McCleary builds the characters in such an empathetic way that I can see why they acted as they did, even if I didn't like their actions. All the characters had flaws, but at the same time were likeable. My favorite characters were Chessy, Georgia's sister, and Wren, Alice's daughter. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to read excellent characterizations and stories of self-discovery. LEAVING HAVEN would make an excellent book group selection.  Lots of good discussion issues in this story. 

Susan from Morgantown, WV
LEAVING HAVEN is the story of two best friends, Alice and Georgia, and the complications that ensue when Alice donates an egg to Georgia, who is struggling with infertility and then proceeds to have an affair with Georgia's husband. When I finished LEAVING HAVEN, I felt simultaneously disappointed in many of the characters for their inability to properly care for their marriages and families and their weakness in the face of temptation, but finally hopeful that they would be able to see the right path and rebuild their lives. I probably felt most sympathetic toward Duncan, who wasn't the perfect husband, but was a good guy who didn't deserve what happened to him. I would recommend LEAVING HAVEN to anyone who is interested in stories about friendship, marriage and family.

Robin from Tucson, AZ --- This comment contains mild SPOILERS.
This book looks at forever friendships and their dynamics, as well as those of siblings and their difficulties. There is the joy of a birth and the anguish of betrayal. The author has done a remarkable job of capturing each of the characters in the book. I started the book and was compelled to finish it in the same day. The three words I would use to describe the book are joy (for the gathering on the beach), happiness (for the baby's future) and sadness (for a friendship lost forever). Out of all the characters, I was most sympathetic toward Georgia because I had a similar personal experience in my marriage. I am in a book group and am going to recommend that we read this book.

Barbara from Abingdon, MD --- This comment contains mild SPOILERS.
LEAVING HAVEN starts slow, but it’s worth reading because a quarter of the way in the book takes off. I ended up reading it in a day and a half. I was a little disappointed that the author didn't have everyone live happily ever after, but the author leaves it to your imagination to figure out how the two families end up. I made them live happily ever after. I sympathized most with Georgia. Didn't like Alice or Duncan --- too regimented for me --- and of course John was somewhat of a jerk. I would recommend this book to my younger friends. However, I'm older and I enjoyed it so I might recommend it to any of my book-loving friends.

Julie from Hellertown, PA
LEAVING HAVEN is wonderful book about family, friendship, infertility and infidelity --- tied together in a package that is hard to put down. The three words I would use to describe my reaction to this book are emotional, satisfied and surprised. I would recommend this book to readers who like women’s fiction and stories about families. I am in a book group and would absolutely recommend it to my fellow members.

Susanne from Chicago, IL --- This comment contains SPOILERS.
This book is about two women and their relationships to each other and their families. The struggle with infertility, parenthood and infidelity is captured in a beautiful, cleverly written novel, which I had a hard time putting down. While reading the book, I felt pleased, satisfied and wanting more. Of all the characters, I was most sympathetic to Alice. Her egg donation was the epitome of "giving." Her fall from grace with her affair was such a horrible and yet human mistake that she wished she could go back in time and rectify --- really made me feel so bad for her. I would absolutely recommend this book to my book club...without hesitation. I loved it.

Leslie Charlottesville, VA
I was unsure if I was going to like the book at the was not until the BIG twist, which caught me off guard, that I got hooked. I loved the book and could not put it down after that. So start reading it and give it time and it will hook you. I would definitely recommend LEAVING HAVEN to women age 40+...and I think it would be good for a book group.

Patti from Leonard, MI
This book is an interesting twist on surrogate parenting. In the end, I was most sympathetic toward Georgia. Not sure if there's enough to discuss for a book club, but it was a good read.

Stacey from Winchester, VA --- This comment contains mild SPOILERS.
LEAVING HAVEN opens with a mother abandoning her baby in a hospital and it will suck you in from the beginning. It's about relationships of families and friends and how they are brought together and torn apart, but with an original twist. The ending doesn't wrap things up with a tidy bow, but leaves you caring about the characters and wondering what happens to them next. After I finished the book I felt furious, sad and hopeful. I sympathized the most with Georgia. I can't imagine how shocked one would be finding out the betrayal of someone who is not only your best friend, but who has also shared such a personal experience with you. I would recommend LEAVING HAVEN to fans of Jodi Picoult, Elizabeth Berg, Anne Tyler and similar authors. I would definitely recommend it for reading by book groups.

Debbie from St Peters, MO
I have already told my “book” friends to look forward to reading LEAVING HAVEN. It is the type of novel that you cannot wait to share with fellow readers to discuss their feelings about it. It is the story of friendship, longing and mistakes in judgment. Two contemporary families intertwine for good and timely problems of infertility. It has a lot of heart and will keep the “girls” talking not only about infertility and bullying but to what lengths one should go. The three words that best describe how I felt after finishing the book are compassionate, insightful and satisfied. I was most sympathetic with Georgia since I love being a mother and know that is why I was placed here on earth.

Margaret from Cincinnati, OH
I would describe LEAVING HAVEN as a complicated adult 21st century relationship novel. It’s about what happens to a couple and their family when they so very desperately want a baby and how this affects those around them. After I finished reading the book, I felt melancholic, but still a bit hopeful. I would recommend this to my book club --- we have gone through these issues or their daughters are right so it would be eye-opening and spark a great discussion.

Lori from Philadelphia, PA
This book takes you on an emotional ride! One minute you’re happy, the next you’re ticked off! You are never quite sure which way things are going to go and it really makes you think about how you would react, what you would do. The characters are real, the situations are understandable and none of the resolutions are perfect. It's really nice to read a book where everything isn't picture perfect --- it just seems real! I've recommended LEAVING HAVEN to all my book friends.

Mary V. from Tyler, TX
LEAVING HAVEN is a story of female friendship, marriage, infertility and betrayal. Georgia struggles with infertility and Alice, her best friend offers her egg. The book opens with Georgia abandoning her longed for baby at the hospital. What could drive a woman to such despair? Readers are immediately hooked. McCleary’s characters are women you will care about. This book is recommended for fans of Jodi Picoult and Chris Bohjalian. After I finished reading the book I felt emotional. The original plot and well-developed characters left me wishing for a sequel that would develop the story further. This book has a lot to offer book clubs. I believe LEAVING HAVEN would engage the book club in deep discussion of friendship, family, and the meaning of loyalty and forgiveness.

Michelle from Converse, TX --- This comment contains SPOILERS
LEAVING HAVEN is a book that takes an honest --- if sometimes emotionally painful --- look at the realities of adult relationships. The book tackles everyday issues from concerns about raising children to infertility problems, the indifference that can begin to occur in marriages, infidelity and, finally, the events that can tear apart friendships. If I had to choose three words to describe how I felt after finishing LEAVING HAVEN they would be engaged --- I finished the book three days ago, but am still thinking about the story, hopeful --- despite the betrayals and hurts in the story, I feel as though the characters still believe they can find a way to move on and find their own version of happiness, and absolved --- I feel that reading this story has helped me to come to terms with the problems and choices I have struggled with in my own life. I started out feeling most sympathetic towards Georgia. However, by the end of the story I felt really bad for Alice. I know that her decisions are what changed everything for her, but I feel like she is the character that lost the most. She lost what were her most valuable relationships. I am not in a book group, but I would recommend LEAVING HAVEN to any of my book-loving friends. I thought the story was well crafted, the characters were captivating and the emotional content of the story was both honest and satisfying.

Amanda from Manassas, VA 
LEAVING HAVEN is a beautiful story of both friendship and soul-searching. Infertility is front and center, but the subplots that surround it are the stars. Having suffered from infertility myself, I identified a lot with Georgia's quest for a child. I would definitely recommend the book, but especially to book groups. There are so many opinions that can be formed on the different topics covered --- infertility, secrecy, friendship, egg donation, surrogacy, etc. Would make a great club pick! 

Kim from Laramie, WY
LEAVING HAVEN is the story about a woman wanting a family so bad that she went to extraordinary lengths. But getting the baby she so desperately wanted isn't enough when everything else goes wrong. I would recommend this book to friends who have had issues with infertility. I would not recommend it to a book group.

Janet from Bel Air, MD
LEAVING HAVEN is a very good book to read if you like to read about relationships and friendships, and a great book to read for book clubs. I was most sympathetic toward Georgia and Duncan, but also felt a lot for the baby Haven! I would recommend this book to my book club because I can see there would be a lot of discussion about all the characters since there was so much going on --- bullying, betrayal, consequences, friendships and marriages.

Lisa from Pensacola Beach, FL
LEAVING HAVEN was a very thought-provoking story. It addresses complicated and ethical issues. After I finished reading it I felt intrigued, enlightened and contemplative. I would recommend this book to all of my friends and to my daughter. I am not in a book group, but I think this book would make a good one for discussion. 

Virginia from Mooresville, NC
LEAVING HAVEN is about the relationship between two best friends, Alice and Georgia. This relationship is complicated by their own relationships with their husbands, their daughters, as well as the contemporary issues of infertility, bullying and surrogacy. I'm not sure that I would recommend it, though. I'm still on the fence about how I feel about this book. 

Arlene from Buffalo, NY
I thought this book was of the chick lit genre and I would explain it as such. The book was okay, but didn't grab me. I might recommend it to a younger group of women. My book group --- absolutely not!