A novel about war and homecoming, love and duty, and an impassioned look at the effects of war on womenas soldiers and caregivers, both at home and on the front lines.
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 womenas 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....
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).
Full Review (824 words).
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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