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Literature: Safe Haven

Safe Haven is a 2010 novel by Nicholas Sparks about a young woman named Katie who escapes her abusive ex-husband, Kevin, and relocates to a small North Carolina town, where she falls for Alex, a widowed father with two children. Trouble ensues as Kevin finds her there and plans on killing the two new lovebirds.

The book was made into a movie in 2013, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel.

The novel and the film contain the following tropes:

  • Abomination Accusation Attack: In a terrifying example, Kevin abuses his authority as a cop to declare Katie a suspect in first-degree murder, and send out a nationwide alert to police everywhere. When this is discovered, Kevin's boss immediately rips into him and suspends him from the force.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job/Dye or Die/Important Haircut: Katie cuts and dyes her hair in order to disguise her appearance when she flees from Kevin. However, in the book, she goes from blonde to brunette, while in the movie, it's the opposite.
  • The Alcoholic: Kevin.
  • Always with You:
  • Attack of the Town Festival: Katie's abusive ex stalks her through Southport's Fourth of July celebration
  • Caught in the Rain: But of course. It's a Nicholas Sparks movie, isn't it?
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy/Genre Savvy: Katie' s escape plan is described in great detail in the book, as well as the measures she takes to avoid detection—quitting jobs after only a few weeks, moving from one motel to another—knowing that between Kevin's personality and his profession, it's only a matter of time before he finds her. Her vigilance pays off when she spots an unfamiliar car on the street while walking to work and instantly suspects it's his. She's right. And he's tracked her down because he knows she didn't have enough money to get very far and could have only found work as a waitress.
  • Dead All Along: One of the minor characters, Jo is actually this.
  • Domestic Abuse: A significant theme in both works.
  • Due to the Dead: Josh to his mom.
  • The Ghost: In line with Dead All Along above and played straight, without suggestions of it being all in character's heads. It's Jo
  • Kill It with Fire: The house is set on fire with gasoline from the jerry can.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After Alex tells Katie to leave town and never return, he has one of these. Kevin of all people has one in the novel, acknowledging that Katie left him because she was fed up with the abuse. He flip-flops between remorse and wanting to atone to wanting to kill her.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: When the police chief realizes that Kevin has illegally declared Katie as a murder suspect, he immediately calls Kevin out and suspends him.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: In the novel, at least. Kevin is able to track Katie down when he shows her picture at the bus station and both the ticket agent and bus driver remember her because she was so pretty.
  • Scenery Porn: Southport, North Carolina is gorgeous
  • Shout-Out: An abused wife, fleeing her abusive husband on a bus in the middle of a rainstorm, having cut her hair to disguise her appearance? Husband tracks her down to a small town, then stalks her through a local celebration? Sounds an awful lot like Sleeping With The Enemy, though it's possible this wasn't intentional.
  • Spirit Advisor: Jo's ghost in question serves in this role.
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding: When Alex thinks Katie is a murderer and confronts her about it, she doesn't attempt to explain herself and instead decides to run away from town, declaring she does not blame him for hating her.
  • Villainous BSOD: Kevin steadily breaks down over the course of the story.
  • Wham Shot: The picture of Alex's wife.