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Be Safe I Love You

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  757 Ratings  ·  169 Reviews
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 allo ...more
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Simon & Schuster
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Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

Be Safe I Love You is a moving story of a young female soldier's homecoming after service in Iraq. Lauren Clay enlisted in the army after her high school graduation in order to provide financial security for her younger brother and depressive father. After five years of service her commitment is finished and she has returned home to Watertown, NJ, fresh from a nine month tour in Afghanistan.

With compassion and sensitivity, Hoffman exposes the struggle many returning soldiers face in reconnecting
Mar 21, 2014 added it
I've never read a better novel depicting the tragedy of war from a woman's perspective. The heartbreak, the emotional stories, the breakage that the mind goes through, is all laid out in this book. So well written and flawlessly portrayed a true stand out in my opinion. The protagonist Lauren is the shell of the woman she used to be but still the reader falls for her. Who could not fall in love with a woman who has seen so much and has come out alive? I adored this book.
Rae Meadows
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have read nonfiction accounts of women veterans (Soldier Girls) but Be Safe I Love You is the first novel--and the only one I know of--about a woman vet returning from Iraq. This is a stunning book. Raw, heart-wrenching, tense, profound. The core relationship, that between Lauren and her brother Danny, is beautifully rendered. Hoffman's prose is both taut and poetic, and she capture's Lauren's mental unraveling with crystalline details that felt very true. Highly recommended.
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Something different....Lauren returns from the army in Iraq ostensibly unscathed but the wounds lie deep.

I liked this as it was an unromantic and I suspect realistic depiction of the trauma suffered by soldiers...that Lauren is a woman adds to the books unusualness.

Alexis Kahn
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A somewhat hyperbolic way to start a review, but this is the best thing I've read in a long time. The story is largely about a veteran's return from war and the challenges she faces when she gets home. Some aspects of this are familiar because we've been hearing a lot about PTSD in returning vets for the past 10 years. What is unique (beyond the fact that the returning vet in this case is woman) is that this character isn't set up to be simply a victim of her psychological state or just someone ...more
Jennifer Masterson
Apr 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won "Be Safe I Love You" in a Goodreads giveaway. I am giving it 3 3/4 stars. It is a powerful novel about a female soldiers return home from war and how she tries to fit back in. I enjoyed reading this book. I did feel at times it was a little slow but given that this novel was so excellently written about PTSD I do recommend it.
Artis Henderson
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've heard people say that the measure of a good story is whether it makes you miss your subway stop. This book made me wish the ride was longer, only so I could stay in the spare and beautiful world Cara Hoffman has created. Each character is so full, so real, so true, that it's impossible not to love each of them, especially the tough and vulnerable Lauren Clay.
Mar 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Even before she decides to go to Iraq Lauren Clay is fighting a war. A war created by two parents who, for different reasons, are unable to care for her and her nine-year-old brother, Daniel. Instead, Lauren is left, at age 14 to take care of herself, her brother and her father, who lies in bed and cries. Despite having a prodigious talent as a coloratura soprano and having been accepted at a major music school, when the foreclosure notices arrive on their house, Lauren gives up her hopes for he ...more
Karen O'Brien-Hall
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wanted to read this book but found opening it a chore and eventually only read about two thirds.
The story is raw and base; the early life of this young soldier left much to be desired and her obsession with her younger brother and his welfare praiseworthy, so why did I not have any empathy or feeling for the characters? Whilst I fully appreciate this book is about military personnel who have seen things I never want to witness, I could not get over the amount of coarse language. I admit to b
I could have rated this 4 but every timei opened the book I.wondered how.many more.times i havr to worry about reading the.f word honestly even soldiers with PTSD AND FAIRLY uneducated dont use as much despicable language as is contained in this book. this book does a disservice to the topic i thought it was adressing. I would have rated it much higher had the vocabulary of the characters been more than ferril
Feb 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: net-galley
Lauren Clay is an Army Sergeant returning home from Iraq. Despite experiencing trauma while deployed Lauren is able to rush through her our processing and return home to her father and brother just in time for Christmas. Lauren also reunites with her ex-boyfriend, Shane, best friend Holly and her former music teacher. It is evident from the beginning that Lauren has changed but it takes a crisis to realize just how changed she is.

Lauren had a tough up bringing, her mother abandoned her and her
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Be Safe I Love You is a sharp, gripping psychological thriller about the long road home from war. Lauren has just been discharged from the army after a tour in Iraq, and she returns to her working class community in Watertown, NY, to find that she and everyone else has changed. Her boyfriend Shane, who went away to school while she joined the military, seems entirely clueless despite all his education. Her friend Holly has gotten stuck bartending while caring for her small daughter. And her brot ...more
Staci Miller
This book was provided to me for review through the GoodReads First Reads program.

Last year I spent a good six months quite intimate with Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried as I was interning for my Alma Mater's promotion of the book as a community read and for O'Brien's visit to our campus. It is a deeply affecting, life changing book. I don't typically like war literature, but The Things They Carried is something else. It is truly not just a masterpiece of war literature, but perhaps the ma
Be Safe I Love You By Cara Hoffman

DNF: 32%

I received a ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What initially attracted me to this book was the title and cover which are both beautiful.

Lauren has come home after finishing her tour in Iraq. She comes home to her father and brother who are happy to see her. Lauren feels out of place, returning from the war zone she finds it hard and struggles to fit into civilian life. You can clearly see that Lauren has matured since the last time she w
Diane Yannick
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have never been able to figure out how we send men and women to war, put them in the center of brutal combat then bring them home and expect them to pick up where they left off. Yeah, we have doctors (who have mostly never been in combat) treat our soldiers for PTSD. Considering the suicide rate, we must not really know what we're doing. Lauren Clay, the returning combat veteran, is afraid to sleep because of the intensity of her nightmares. She entered the service to try to provide financiall ...more
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, fiction
Be Safe I Love You focuses around the story of Lauren Clay. Lauren from a young age took on the responsibility of taking care of her family. As a result of her feeling of responsibility towards them she enlists in the military and is sent to war in Iraq. The story focuses on her life after returning from the war and her struggle to readjust to normal life. Intertwined with the main narrative are stories from her past either during the war or before sprinkled in.

Overall I really enjoyed this boo
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Be Safe I love You is a very well written fast paced novel. I think that Lauren is one of the most interesting and unique characters that I have read about in quite awhile. Cara Hoffman is adept at reeling you in and keeping you there; making you feel the turmoil that Lauren felt.
One thing I did have trouble with was with the character of Lauren's father and being a psychologist and not realizing he had depression to the point where he didn't provide for his family? In turn causing Lauren that m
Yes, Olga, I have dnf-ed it after all. I am such a lame duck I could cry. *bitchslaps herself*
Kathryn Bashaar
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lauren is a young woman who has always taken care of others. When her mother abandoned the family and her father succumbed to depression, she raised her little brother. Then she gives up a promising singing career and joins the Army to make sure her father and brother are financially taken care of. She returns from Iraq disturbingly changed, but the people who love her either don't notice or brush it off because they are so used to her being strong.
This book really takes you inside Lauren's hea
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-reading
Lauren Clay had a tough childhood. Through no real choice of her own, she became responsible for raising her younger brother and caring for a depressed father. Despite her responsibilities, she was an excellent student, athlete and classically trained soprano. She delayed college plans to enlist in the service in order to financially support her family. After serving her time in Iraq, she returned home a different, damaged person with PTSD.

This was an extremely well-written and emotionally powe
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this right after I read Redeployment by Phil Klay and really appreciated the intimate exploration of Lauren's mind, in contrast to Redeployment, which shied away from that intimacy. The way her difficult past was combining with her difficult present to make life nearly unbearable was so tragically real and well depicted. She was so deeply strong and yet had truly reached the end of her rope. A lot to dissect in terms of all the minor characters and their struggles, and the way they weighe ...more
Dan Radovich
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Her follow-up to SO MUCH PRETTY is equally as powerful, proving Hoffman indeed is one of her generations most talented writers. This is a first that I am aware of, a novel dealing with the effects of PTSD on a FEMALE Iraq War soldier. Lauren Clay returns home on Christmas to a welcoming family and friends in small town America. Her journey once home is riveting, some of the best writing I have experienced; and sure to be ONE OF THE BEST NOVELS OF 2014! Some see and sense a problem, her Father op ...more
Lydia Presley
Mar 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've had Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman on my radar for a while but it was a twitter exchange between two bloggers that I trust that had me pulling it out finally to dive in. The story here is deceptively simple: a young woman from a small town escapes a life of poverty by enlisting and, by enlisting, is able to help her brother and her father financially. Little did I know, however, how quickly the story would move on from that into something much deeper and of more impact.

Read the rest of
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My thanks go to Cara Hoffman and Goodreads First Reads Giveaway for my copy of Be Safe, I Love You that I won.

One of the tragic results of war is what it does to our love ones that go to battle zones. The mental anguish they bring home now has a name but when my husband came home from WWII, we faced his nightmares and mood swings alone. The character in the book was a young woman returning from a war zone and even with counseling, she still had difficulties dealing with reality, which made Be Sa
Dina Roberts
Mar 31, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked the second part of the book better than the first. The second part was suspenseful. I found the first part to be a bit slow.

I had a hard time connecting to the story and the characters. I had that feeling when reading the book...the inability to forget I was reading words from an author. I didn't find myself getting lost in the story. I think reading sometimes feels like you're experiencing the story rather than sitting reading words. I didn't have that a lot when I was reading this.
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Raw and realistic-feeling story of the difficulties of homecoming and reintegration for a female soldier with PTSD. The story focuses mostly on Lauren's internal struggles and disorientation, with glimpses of how differently those around her view the same situations. Lauren is portrayed sympathetically even in her darker moments and the author does a good job of showing her motivations and frustrations, strength and vulnerabilities.
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow burner but gripping although sad story.
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Even from ten of fifteen miles away you get a good view of a burning village. It was a merry sight. A tiny hamlet that you wouldn't even notice in the daytime, with ugly, uninteresting country around it, you can't imagine how impressive it can be when it's on fire at night! You'd think it was Notre-Dame! A village, even a small one, takes at least all night to burn, in the end it looks like an enormous flowers, then there;s only a bud, and after that nothing." - Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey ...more
Jon Frankel
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Cara Hoffman’s second novel is a coming home story. The hook is the soldier returning from war is a woman. This is in and of itself important and noteworthy and accounts for one half of the response to this novel from women readers. Women are fighting wars and women suffer from the same suite of pathologies men do. Arguably their experience both in the world and the military compounds this situation. Men suffer the silence of the returned; women suffer the silence of their gender. But this is no ...more
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.
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HOFFMAN is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Running, So Much Pretty and Be Safe I Love You. She has written for the New York Times, Marie Claire, Salon, and National Public Radio, and is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including a Folio Prize nomination, and a Sundance Institute Global Filmmaking Award.

She has been a visiting writer at Columbia, St. John’s and Universi
More about Cara Hoffman...

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“Suicide is now the leading cause of death for US service members and veterans, far outstripping combat-related deaths.” 2 likes
“What's wrong with you, Daniel? How can you laugh about these things?" And I'm like, 'Cause crying only gets you halfway there, duh.” 1 likes
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