Summary and book reviews of Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman

Be Safe I Love You

By Cara Hoffman

Be Safe I Love You
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  • Hardcover: Apr 2014,
    304 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp

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About this Book

Book Summary

Lauren Clay has returned from a tour of duty in Iraq just in time to spend the holidays with her family. Before she enlisted, Lauren, a classically trained singer, and her brother Danny, a bright young boy obsessed with Arctic exploration, made the most of their modest circumstances, escaping into their imaginations and forming an indestructible bond. Joining the army allowed Lauren to continue to provide for her family, but it came at a great cost.

When she arrives home unexpectedly, it's clear to everyone in their rural New York town that something is wrong. But her father is so happy to have her home that he ignores her odd behavior and the repeated phone calls from an army psychologist. He wants to give Lauren time and space to acclimate to civilian life.

Things seem better when Lauren offers to take Danny on a trip to visit their mother upstate. Instead, she guides them into the glacial woods of Canada on a quest to visit the Jeanne d'Arc basin, the site of an oil field that has become her strange obsession. As they set up camp in an abandoned hunting lodge, Lauren believes she's teaching Danny survival skills for the day when she's no longer able to take care of him.

But where does she think she's going, and what happened to her in Iraq that set her on this path?

From a writer whom The New York Times Book Review says, "writes with a restraint that makes poetry of pain," Be Safe I Love You is a novel about war and homecoming, love and duty, and an impassioned look at the effects of war on women—as soldiers and caregivers, both at home and on the front lines.

THE CLAYS LIVED in a bungalow-style building that crouched between a small, unkempt lot plastered with mottled-yellow leaves and a row of identical duplexes. Steam rose from a vent near the back door, and Lauren could smell dryer sheets, laundry being done. The walk from Shane's had left her body feeling refreshed and strong, her joints loose and humming. Now she had a clear head to think about what she'd have to do at home.

She stepped up to the back door and pushed it open, instinctively putting her hand down to stop Sebastian from jumping, then remembered he was gone. To hear the door creak and no barking felt like missing a step. His round blue dishes were not on the floor beside the closet, but his leash and collar hung on a hook by the coat rack, along with Danny's jacket, her father's plaid scarf and puffy coat. It smelled like home; a damp autumnal smell of leaves, musty old books, and some kind of citrus cleaner, or maybe someone had been eating an orange....

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Reviews

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Be Safe I Love You is a poignant study of the far-reaching consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder. It reminds us that is not only veterans who are impacted by the horrors of war. It has the potential to damage anyone and everyone.   (Reviewed by Sarah Tomp).

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Media Reviews
Miami Herald

Beautifully written and unflinching in its honesty . . . A terrific story, suspenseful and smart and tender in unexpected moments, but it’s also a call to action, a heartfelt demand for us to pay closer attention to the costly fallout of violence.

Kirkus Reviews

Hoffman weaves an intricate plot, but a tendency to overwrite shadows her story, leaving the reader to make a complicated literary journey that, for some, may not be worth the effort.

Publisher's Weekly

Excellent... Hoffman fills her tight narrative with an ominous sense of imminent violence... [a] haunting page turner.

Booklist

A page-turner that also offers impassioned social critique.

Library Journal

Starred Review. A searing, unforgettable, and beautifully written tale about the corrosive effects of war on the psyche, a contemporary version of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried with a female protagonist

Author Blurb Elizabeth Hand, award-winning author of Available Dark and Generation Loss
Cara Hoffman's Be Safe I Love You is a tour-de-force of literary suspense by a brilliant, fearless writer - simply the best book I've read in ages.

Author Blurb Adam Haslett, author of Union Atlantic and the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-nominated You Are Not a Stranger Here
Be Safe I Love You isn't just a beautiful and unsparing tale of a soldier's return from the Iraq War, though it is certainly that. It is a reckoning with the moral disaster of that conflict, one that no amount of news and reporting can give us because it requires more than facts. It requires the kind of imaginative transformation Cara Hoffman has accomplished here, turning the story of one young woman's journey from working poverty to war and home again into a song of lament for a country that has lost its way.

Author Blurb Reiko Rizzuto, author of Hiroshima in the Morning
In lyrical, assured prose, Hoffman probes the ravages of war on the survivors, the power of forgetting, the defiance of love, and the possibility of forgiveness. Be Safe I Love You will make your heart race, and then break it.

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American Women in the Military

Both my grandmothers served in the United States army during World War I. Like Lauren (the protagonist in Be Safe I Love You, a veteran soldier who has served in Iraq), they enlisted in order to seek a better future than offered in their small hometowns. They were among more than 20,000 nurses serving in the United States and overseas between the years of 1917-1918.

American women have long had a role in the military, beginning with the Revolutionary War in 1775, when they worked as nurses, water bearers, cooks, laundresses and saboteurs. They even dressed as men to fight alongside them in the Civil War.

After the support of army nurses during the Spanish-American war the Army Nurse Corps was founded in 1901 with the Navy Nurse Corps...

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