Be Safe I Love You
DescriptionThis widely acclaimed novel about a female soldier who returns from Iraq haunted by a tragic mistake is "beautifully written...suspenseful and smart and tender in unexpected moments" (Miami Herald) and was named one of the 5 Best in Modern War Fiction by The Sunday Telegraph. Before she enlisted, classically-trained singer Lauren Clay had been accepted to a prestigious music conservatory, but her family's financial demands--worsened by her parents' divorce and her father's declining mental health--pushed her in another direction. Joining the army allowed Lauren to provide for her family--especially her younger brother Danny, whose quirky, heartfelt letters to her overseas are signed, be safe, I love you. When she arrives home unexpectedly, it's clear to her friends and family that something is profoundly wrong with Lauren. But her father is so happy to have her home that he ignores her odd behavior, as well as the repeated phone calls from an army psychologist. Things seem better when Lauren offers to take Danny on a trip to visit their mother upstate, but 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. What happens there will change Sergeant Lauren Clay's family forever, as she must finally face what she saw, and did, in Iraq. Be Safe I Love You is "a rare, illuminating glimpse into the distinctive experience and psyche of a female vet" (Boston Globe); "a riveting suspense story and a frank portrayal of war's psychic damage" (Ms. Magazine); and "a painful exploration of the devastation wrought by combat even when the person returns from war without a scratch...this book is a reminder that art and love are all that can keep us from despair" (The New York Times Book Review).
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About the Author
Cara Hoffman is the author of three critically acclaimed novels for adults: Running (a New York Times Editor's Choice), Be Safe I Love You (nominated for a Folio Prize), and So Much Pretty (a New Yorker Books Pick and New York Times Best Suspense Novel of 2011). She is also the author of the popular middle grade novel Bernard Pepperlin (a Junior Library Guild Selection). She has written for Rolling Stone, the New York Times, Paris Review, Bookforum, and National Public Radio, among others, and has been a visiting writer at University of Oxford. She lives in Manhattan and teaches at the Stonecoast MFA program at University of Southern Maine.
"A finely tuned piece of fiction . . . Be Safe I Love You is a painful exploration of the devastation wrought by combat even when the person returns from war without a scratch. The story--written with such lucid detail it's hard to believe the main character is an invention--suggests the damage starts long before the soldier reports for duty. . . . In crystalline language that conveys both the desolation of the Iraqi desert and the north country of New York State . . . this book is a reminder that art and love are all that can keep us from despair."--Alissa J. Rubin "The New York Times Book Review "
"Tense and stunning . . . exactly what a war novel should be: not a story about battles and guns and machismo, but a tale of refreshing honesty about the harm war does to us all, women, men and children alike, not only in battle, but at home."--Helen Benedict "The Guardian (UK) "
"Riveting. Be Safe I Love You is haunting and rare: the story of a young female soldier returning home, torn between love and rage, unable to recognize who she once was. 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."--Reiko Rizzuto, author of Hiroshima in the Morning
"A gorgeously written, heart-wrenching novel that explores the damage inflicted upon a veteran of the Iraq war, and the varieties of love that ultimately sustain her. 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."--Elizabeth Hand, award-winning author of Available Dark and Generation Loss
"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."--Adam Haslett, author of Union Atlantic "and the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-nominated You Are Not a Stranger Here "