A novel about the casualties of war - on the front lines, and at home
BE SAFE I LOVE YOU tells the story of Lauren Clay, a woman soldier returned from Iraq, and her beloved younger brother Danny, obsessed with Arctic exploration and David Bowie, whom she has looked out for since their mother left them years before.
Lauren is home in time to spend Christmas with Danny and her father, who is delighted to have her back and reluctant to acknowledge that something feels a little strange. But as she reconnects with her small-town life in upstate New York, it soon becomes apparent that things are not as they should be. And soon an army psychologist is making ever-more frantic attempts to reach her.
But Lauren has taken Danny on a trip upstate - to visit their mother, she says at first, although it becomes clear that her real destination is somewhere else entirely: a place beyond the glacial woods of Canada, where Lauren thinks her salvation lies. But where, really, does she think she is going, and what happened to her in Iraq that set her on this quest?
BE SAFE I LOVE YOU is an exquisite and unflinching novel about war, its aftermath, and the possibility of healing.
It would be a mistake to understand Be Safe, I Love You only as a war novel. This is also a book about broken families and class and the impossible choices the working poor are too often forced to make . . . Deeply moving and gorgeously written - raw in some places, tender in others . . . We see how a woman's life is shaped by experiencing war as a soldier . . . It is refreshing and so necessary to see a writer exploring this shift in fiction, addressing the unique sacrifices women must sometimes make - Buzzfeed
A tense and stunning novel . . . exactly what a war novel should be: a tale of refreshing honesty about the harm war does to us all - Guardian
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 - New York Times Book Review
Thoughtful, subtle and tense - Sunday Times
Cara Hoffman is the author of the critically acclaimed 2011 novel So Much Pretty. She grew up in northern Appalachia, where she dropped out of high school to work full time. Hoffman spent three years travelling and working as an agricultural labourer in Europe and the Middle East. She returned to the US, had a baby and found a job delivering newspapers which eventually led to work as a reporter covering environmental politics and crime. She has been a visiting writer at St. John's, Columbia and Oxford, where she lectured on Violence and Masculinity for the Rhodes Global Scholars Symposium. Hoffman lives in Manhattan and teaches writing and literature at Bronx Community College.