The Haven: A Novel

The Haven: A Novel

by Carol Lynch Williams

Hardcover(First Edition)

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For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs—and memories.

But Shiloh is different; she remembers everything. Gideon is different, too. He dreams of a cure, of rebellion against the status quo. What if everything they've been told is a lie? What if The Haven is not the safe place it claims to be? And what will happen if Shiloh starts asking dangerous questions?

Powerful and emotional, The Haven takes us inside a treacherous world in which nothing is as it seems. "Imagine Anna Quindlen or Sue Miller turning her attention to writing a young adult novel, and you have an idea of what Carol Lynch Williams has done for early teen readers." (Audrey Couloumbis, author of the Newbery Honor Book Getting Near to Baby)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312698713
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 03/04/2014
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: HL430L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

CAROL LYNCH WILLIAMS, who lives in Provo, Utah, was awarded the prestigious PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship. Her novel The Chosen One won the Whitney and the Association of Mormon Letters Awards for the best YA novel of the year. The Chosen One and Glimpse were both named "Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers" by the ALA, which also named Miles from Ordinary among the "Best Fiction for Young Adults" in 2012.

Read an Excerpt

The Haven

By Carol Lynch Williams

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2014 Carol Lynch Williams
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-312-69871-3


They came during lunch. They always do. You know, to get one of us.

We bent over our plates of grilled salmon, fresh green beans, and blueberries with cantaloupe. Close enough to whisper. Close enough to touch, if we dared. I could smell the olive oil used to cook the fish. My mouth watered. I couldn't wait to start eating. In my mind I chowed down this fuel, making my body stronger (I hoped). A better performer (I hoped). Well.

Abigail, someone I've known as long as we can both remember, leaned toward me. "It's like you're eating with your nose," she said. "Like some kind of Smell-O-Vision or scratch and sniff."

"Either works," I said. Ms. Iverson, who monitors our table, makes sure we eat, and helps Miss Maria set out our Tonics, nodded over her plate like she wanted to eat, too.

A younger Terminal, not yet eight years old, stood.

"About time," I said in a loud whisper.

"Glorify this food to give us strength," the male said.

"Glorify this food to give us strength." We spoke in unison.

"Glorify this food to cure our ills."

"Glorify this food to cure our ills."

"Glorify this food to make us Whole."

"Glorify this food to make us Whole."

"Glorify this food to make us perfect for the good of our Benefactors."

"Glorify our Benefactors," we said, touching our foreheads.

The Terminal sat and the sounds of talking and silverware clinking on china filled the dining room.

I took a bite of the melon we grow here at Haven Hospital & Halls. It tasted sweet like summer sometimes is, though outside a snowstorm headed our way.

It was right after that tiny bite that the side doors to the cafeteria (the ones used only then) opened. These doors, almost as tall as the ceiling, and without windows, squeaked out a warning, but it was as if someone had dropped one of the lead crystal vases filled with flowers. The whole lunchroom went dead quiet. Just like that, hushed. I wasn't sure I could take a complete breath.

"No no no." My hands went cold, and without saying another word, I clasped them together to keep them from shaking.

In the whole of the cafeteria no one seemed to move. Nothing could be heard, though I wondered if my heart was as loud to others as it sounded to me. Were their hearts beating like mine? Two hundred plus of us in here, add in the Staff and Teachers, and not one noise, just beating hearts, maybe pounding hearts. The whole group looking at those gigantic doors opening. The light from an eastern window blinded me and then I could see.

Ms. Iverson stood, scraping her chair on the tiled floor, then sat down like she had made a mistake. Mr. MacGee reached out to her. They aren't supposed to touch. It's bad for us to see that. But they did, a brief finger-to-hand contact.

"Good afternoon, Terminals," Dr. King said as he walked in through the double doors. He strode across the floor, and did that weird thing with his mouth, stretching it up at the corners. His voice was thin, lost in this room full of bodies and plush chairs, a room with tapestries on the walls, flowers everywhere. He waved like he was on parade or something, the sides of his lab coat fluttering because he took such big steps. That sunlight shone on his light-colored hair when he passed beneath it.

Right behind him came Principal Harrison, our pal, everyone's pal. His ponytail bounced as he walked and his suit was neat, crisp. They hurried to the stage, climbing the stairs two at a time, like maybe they wanted to get this over with.

Did their hearts pound?

Just last month I practiced on that stage for the part of Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, a play about true sacrifice and giving. It seemed so long ago.

Mr. Tremmel, another teacher, ran for the handheld microphone from the china cabinet drawer.

We watched. Blood coursed through my veins like it wanted to get free. No, I wanted to get free. Run. Runrunrun. My feet shuffled.

Time slowed and sped up at the same moment as Dr. King and Principal Harrison stepped center stage, moving faster than any Terminal could. My hands clenched so that my fingernails dug into my palms. What would they say? Who would they call?

Abigail reached for me. Brushed her arm against mine. My head spun with a sudden dizziness and my stomach squeezed in on itself.

I thought, If I can count to a hundred before they start speaking. Yes, count. Onetwothreefourfivesixseven ...

Dr. King and Principal Harrison are Whole — like our Teachers — and they scare me. Hearing the doctor's name can make my tongue go dry as hot sand.

... twentyonetwentytwotwentythreetwentyfour ...

Run! Stay! Count!

My throat went so tight, I thought that bit of lunch might come back up. I could taste cantaloupe again. No longer sweet — now it had the flavor of strong herbs or bad medicine.

... Say each number, don't skip, don't skip

... thirtyeightthirtyninefortyfortyonefortytwoforty ...

"Not us," Abigail said. Her voice almost didn't make it the few inches to me. "Please not anyone I know." She closed her eyes, then opened them again.

Someone, a little male on the opposite side of the room where all the males sit, let out a cry, and all at once three of the younger Terminals near him wailed out this inhuman sound, mouths and eyes wide open. Dr. King, standing at the front of the room now, tried to quiet them with hushed tones into the microphone. He motioned for their table monitor to help.

... sixtysixtyonesixtytwo ...

"We have reports back now for ...," Dr. King said. He held up a manila envelope stuffed with paper and flapped it in the air.

"Stop that fussing," Principal Harrison said. He pointed in the direction of the wailing males.

... seventyfiveseventysixseventyseven ...

Mr. Tremmel leaned over their chairs. I could see him speaking. Two of the males quieted. The third did, too. But his mouth and eyes stayed open — wide. He gripped the table. His hair was blond as the edge of the winter sun.

The whole room felt trapped inside me, along with numbers. My skin felt raw, worried.

I hadn't done it. Hadn't counted fast enough. I would leave again or maybe Abigail. Miss Maria leaned in from the kitchen to watch.

"... reports are back for Isaac."

The mic hummed, and a few Terminals murmured.


It wasn't me. I wouldn't go. A headache throbbed behind my temples, then left like it exited my ears.

Rituals, I had read in The Terminal Encyclopedia (and the words were now stuck in my head), were believed and practiced by some cultures, though this practice ended the American Terminal culture as we know it.

I thought, My counting ritual worked.

Dr. King stretched his mouth at us again, making his lips into that frightening half moon, then blew into the microphone and continued. "Isaac, after your meal, please go straight to your room. Someone will be waiting for you there. You'll need your prepared bag, as you know." He tapped the envelope. "I hope you all have your bags packed and at the ready. Do you?"

We nodded. The whole group of us.

Isaac, tall and red-haired, sat three chairs down from Gideon, who was Romeo in the play. Gideon. My stomach dropped into my lap. What now? First my heart racing, now my stomach lurching when I looked at this male. Definite signs of illness.

Isaac gave Dr. King a nod. Isaac's lips were pinched — his freckles bright on his now-pale face. A Teacher near him laid a hand on Isaac's shoulder and he curled forward then shrugged the Teacher away. Isaac stood, shaking his head like he wanted to clear it, and walked for the doors that led from the dining room. The regular doors that would take him to his bedroom. He took one last look at us all.

Isaac was leaving.

I swallowed.

I am not.

He raised his hand in an almost-salute and went into the hall.

He hadn't even finished eating. The most important part of any Terminal's day — consuming our nutrients — and he left a full plate behind.

Principal Harrison took the microphone from the doctor and said, "No gloomy faces here. We must keep the rest of you healthy, now, mustn't we? Eat up. Only the best food, only the best care for you here at Haven Hospital and Halls. Clean your plates. We always recycle, reuse, and never let anything go to waste."

No one made a sound.

Don't move, don't even breathe, and they may not see you, I thought.

The doctor and our principal left the room, going the way they had come, through the big doors that closed, this time, without a sound. Everyone took on life as minutes crept by. Terminals spoke to each other, soft at first, then the noise level grew.

I didn't have the strength to pick up my fork. Abigail tapped the back of my hand. My head spun.

"Eat, Shiloh. Abigail," Ms. Iverson said, from the far end of the table. "Lunch will be over soon. We don't need you growing weak, too."

"Yes, Shiloh," said Abigail. Her forehead wrinkled. She got close enough for our cheeks to touch, though not quite. I slid away. "What would I do if you weren't with me?"

I blinked to make the dizziness go away.

"Don't ask that," I said.

Abigail nodded. "I shouldn't think of anything outside of Haven Hospital and Halls, but sometimes I do. Like, what I would do if you were gone?" Her voice dropped to a whisper. "I wish we didn't live here."

I gulped nothing but air.

"That's preposterous. We're Terminals," I said, drawing out the word. "This is where we live."

Abigail picked up her fork and pulled a bit of the salmon apart. "If," she said. "What about if we didn't?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. I've never thought of being away from here."

What do we expect at Haven Hospital & Halls? We are Terminal. I know this. We all know this. We leave. We take our prepared bags sometimes and go. But not like Abigail suggested. Like Isaac now. That kind of leaving is part of us.

"Imagine being free," Abigail said. She whispered the words but they felt so loud, everyone in the Dining Hall must have heard them.

"Don't say that," I said. Her words made me uncomfortable. "It could have been you and saying this might make it you." The thought of Abigail being called away was almost as bad as the thought of me being the next one taken out for Treatment.

You never know.

There is no pattern that I can distinguish. I remember everyone who's left. And when, too. That information sticks in my brain. Things I need to remember (and things I don't) stay around longer for me than for other Terminals, even with the Tonic.

"We never know who or when or why," I said.

Ruth, sitting on the other side of me, said, "We do know." Her huge brown eyes seemed even bigger than normal. "The Disease may strike at any moment, any time. We have to be prepared. We stay here and prepare for the worst."

Abigail didn't answer.

"We're lucky to live here." Ruth pointed with her knife. "Haven Hospital and Halls is the finest Treatment center available."

Around us the noise in the dining room became a steady hum. Had the Terminals already forgotten about Isaac? Memories the medication should keep away were still close enough for me to touch.

Long ago, I quit telling Dr. King how much I remembered, because the increase in Tonics made me so sick, I couldn't eat.

It's best to keep some things to myself.

No one needs to know what's in my head.

That irreverent thought made me want to tell on myself, but I pushed it away.

"Eat. Keep strong," Ruth said. She ate like her words would keep her from leaving again.

Now Abigail's lips were thin and white, like the blood had seeped from them. I brushed my fingertip against her arm, a quick touch, though it meant a burst of nausea. Her skin was as cold as if nothing ran through her veins.

"Ruth's right, Abigail," I said, and Ruth nodded. "You've heard the doctors. The better health we have, the better chance we have."

Abigail turned to her food.

And though I wasn't sure it would help, I finished lunch.


"All right, everyone," Ms. Iverson said once we settled into our chairs for English. Some Terminals stared at their desktops. It's like this when someone goes, like our batteries are drained. Terminals might not remember who was gone, but when those Dining Hall doors open, an awful feeling stays with us, if only for a few hours.

Now Ms. Iverson closed our classroom door, stood facing the opaque glass, then turned and gazed out at all of us. She spoke to the tops of bent heads.

"Let's chat." Her voice was low, desktop level.

She does this every time someone we know leaves. Isaac is in this class with us. (Or was? Should I say was?) I tried to gather courage from somewhere that seemed empty inside, then looked back at Ms. Iverson again.

"You know we can't spend a lot of time on this subject, but we'll talk for a few minutes."

I pressed my knuckles to my lips, eyes stinging. Maybe if I didn't blink, I might be safe the next time those doors opened.

No blinking.


Eating even when I wasn't hungry.

All to save myself.



All this at Haven Hospital & Halls is good. It might all be a saving grace, though there is no grace for Terminals living at this Treatment center that doubles as a school.

I pretended to listen to Ms. Iverson. I didn't want to hear what she said. I had this speech memorized.

Voices took turns around me, but I kept my head down. Focused on the lined paper stacked on the corner of my desk.

More than twenty Terminals had been in and out of surgery since my own operation. Twenty Terminals in about a year.

The computations were easy. Nearly two per month.

I rubbed a finger over my palm.

None had seemed ill.

When someone is contagious, they're quarantined, put into Isolation. But even then we won't be called away.

The Disease, they told us, was silent, never showed its head, seemed instead to be hidden in the lab reports that Dr. King brought with him.

And I knew for a fact, I had been healthy. I hadn't felt ill. There were no hints. No indication of trouble.

Then, without warning, my name was called. My fingertips went numb, remembering.

I closed my eyes again. The Terminals around me spoke in soft voices.

I relived leaving more often than not. The way my name was called. How I hadn't accepted the summons at first and Dr. King had to call my name again. How I had stood at that lunch. How my knees shook. Abigail said, "Be strong." And I walked across the Dining Hall at the end of the meal with everyone watching and Mr. MacGee nodding to me, like a good-bye. When I had looked at the Terminals and it was like we were all the same person because it would happen to them and it was happening to me and it had happened to others before.

For decades.

That's what Dr. King said.

Now, at the front of the classroom as Ms. Iverson spoke in subdued tones, I peered at the two bare poplars outside the window, out at the spring snow. Isaac walked tall when he left the dining room today. I'm not so sure I had.

"No more!" A voice jarred me.

Gideon stood beside his chair. His face was blotchy. He looked so ... what? Sick?

"Gideon," Ms. Iverson said. She went across the room to stand near him but didn't get too close.

"There has to be a promise," Gideon said. He spoke through clenched teeth. His sandy-colored hair fell over his forehead, curled a little at his collar. He was at least a head taller than Ms. Iverson and even from where I sat I could see how blue his eyes were. My insides tumbled seeing him.

"Are you okay?" Ms. Iverson's hands were extended, like she might touch him, though I knew she wouldn't unless extreme measures were called for and Security came.

Gideon swung toward her. I'd never seen a Terminal move like that. He was so fast. "Am I okay? No!" His voice grew. I covered my ears.

Three Terminals at the front of the classroom — Camille, Ruth, and John — slid back in their chairs like they were afraid. Matthew dropped his book. It landed on the floor with a pop and half the classroom jumped, including me.

"You have reason to be upset, Gideon," Ms. Iverson said. Her hands still out. Her voice soothing.

"This is wrong," he said, and I uncovered my ears. His voice was quiet now — like what he would say was meant for only a few of us to hear, and not the whole class. "It doesn't have to be this way."

No one replied.

"What're you saying, Gideon?" Abraham asked. "This is the way and the life."

"We're Terminals," Sarah said. She twisted her short hair around her finger, and whispered, "We're Terminals." Twist, twist, twist.


Excerpted from The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams. Copyright © 2014 Carol Lynch Williams. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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