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Be Safe I Love You

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  573 ratings  ·  134 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 23, 2014 Debbie 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.
Alexis Kahn
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
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
Artis Henderson
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.
Karen O'Brien-Hall
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Yes, Olga, I have dnf-ed it after all. I am such a lame duck I could cry. *bitchslaps herself*
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
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
Kathryn Bashaar
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
Lydia Presley
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
Dan Radovich
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
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
Gloria Feit
After her highly acclaimed novel “So Much Pretty,” Cara Hoffman introduces her readers to Sgt Lauren Clay, just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. Lauren enlisted as much as anything due to the need to provide for her family: her father, and her younger and adored younger brother, Danny, who she virtually raised for nine years after her mother left them one night when Lauren was ten years old. An NCO at 21, her sense of duty is perhaps the strongest part of her personality, in addition to bei ...more
I think this is an important book. No matter what side of the political spectrum we find ourselves, we all support our troops, and wish them a healthy return. But without first-hand knowledge of enlisting, serving, and fighting overseas, I think it is difficult to really comprehend the trauma to the psyche of the young soldier that occurs during wartime. I felt Cara Hoffman's book was able to give me at least a glimmer of understanding.
In this case, the protagonist is a woman, Lauren Clay-- a t
Gerard J.  Medvec
Does a brilliant book necessitate a brilliant author?


All ye, tip thy hats or curtsy to the queen of the dramatic chapter ending, Cara Hoffman, as she sits upon the throne of her new book, BE SAFE I LOVE YOU.
Tis always a good book that keeps you captive. And Hoffman's slick twists at each chapter's end makes it compulsive that you read on.
Skillfully, slowly, the story walks, runs, then flies you through the inner and outer turmoil of a modern soldier's return from duty in Iraq, and her at
Lauren’s mother had left the family when she was young and her father suffered from severe depression spending most of his days in bed. By the time she was ten, she had become parent to her younger brother Daniel. She had a brilliant singing voice and had won a scholarship to a prestigious music school but, without a responsible wage-earning parent to ensure Daniel’s future, she instead enlisted in the military, not for patriotic reasons, but for the signing bonus.

Now Lauren has returned home to
With a partner away in Afghan at the moment I have been a little wary about starting this one; I had heard good things but if it was as good as I had been hearing then I wasn't totally sure I would be up for reading it right now. I finally got up the courage to make a start on it and read it in one go more or less.

Be Safe is a unforgiving look at the impact of war shown through the reactions of three generations of interlinked people living in small town America. The majority of the story links
Several noteworthy novels have emerged from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: The Yellow Birds, Fobbit, and Jonah’s Book to name a few. However, few have addressed what it’s like for female soldiers upon their return. Be Safe, I Love You, a beautifully written novel by Cara Hoffman, does just that. It tells the story of Sgt. Lauren Clay’s journey back into civilian life after returning home from a tour of duty in Iraq.

Clay comes from a rural town in upstate New York Her family delights in her re
I don't know how I really feel about this book. It's the story of a soldier who has just returned from the last assignment. There is evidence that something bad happened over there and that it has affected the soldier's emotional stability. The soldier is determined to show everyone that what they think is important isn't really. That those people have no idea what war is like and that the soldier's job is to preserve freedom for the USA. The soldier is a woman.

She has taken care of her younger
A beautifully written book about war, family and inner strength. Lauren returns back home from a tour of Iraq expecting to pick up where she left off with her teenage brother and depressed father. She's unnerved to find her father up and about and taking care of his family while her brother seems half lost in his phone and computer. Something is wrong with Lauren yet Danny, her brother is too young to see it and her father doesn't want to see it.

It's an incredibly descriptive book. I felt like I
...she was stuck dragging around this ruined version of herself...

There's lots of stories out there about men returning from war but not too many at all about women returning.

Lauren Clay enlisted to ensure that she could send money home and make sure that her little brother, Danny, is fed, clothed and has a roof over his head - things that their parents weren't too great about providing. She doesn't realize the terrible price she will pay and just how broken she will be when she returns from Ira
This novel deals with a hometown american girl who returns home after a difficult tour in the Gulf; she is mustering out of the military. This novel is an interesting take on how we handle the hardships that befall us. The author also visits the idea that our personality archetypes might play into how we react to what we experience. All that aside, it was a darn good story. The heroine was easy to root for - her story could be that of so many blue collar kids who need to put off dreams and start ...more
Connie N.
I didn't really "get" this book. We meet Lauren Clay just as she's been released from duty in Irag. There's some implication that she was released before her scheduled time because of an incident, but we really don't hear too much about it except in brief flashbacks. She's definitely different--paranoid, always prepared, with some sort of mission in her mind to go to Joan D'Arc Valley to see some oil derricks. Even having finished the book, I don't understand what was the significance of that sp ...more
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Cara Hoffman is the author of the critically acclaimed novel So Much Pretty and has been a visiting writer at St. John’s, Columbia and Oxford Universities. Originally from upstate New York, Hoffman currently teaches writing and literature at Bronx Community College, sings with the St. George Choral Society, and lives in New York City.
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
“Now that she’d done her own tour she could see a little bit of the war in him, his familiarity with silences, his drive, a reconciled sorrow that lifted the corners of his mouth in a kind of mocking self-abnegation. The weight of being alive, being a victim of the killing you’ve done.” 0 likes
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