Monday, June 9, 2014

Be Safe, I Love You; Cara Hoffman

Be Safe, I Love You; Cara Hoffman
Simon & Schuster - 2014

Life has not been easy for Lauren Clay, and it has become increasingly difficult after spending time in Iraq.

Prior to joining the military, Lauren had been the one to hold her family together.  Her mother left them when she and her younger brother Danny were young.  Her father hasn't been able to work because of major depression issues, so Lauren does what she feels she must do to keep what remains of her family together. In her mind the most important thing is to make a better childhood for her brother Danny.

Once a talented vocalist, she gives up the chance to attend a prestigious school of music, by enlisting in he military in order to support her family and to avoid foreclosure on their home.  The price she pays by doing this isn't evidenced until she tries to resume her pre-war life.  Returning to her family in Watertown, NY in time for Christmas, father and brother are excited beyond belief.  They are just so happy to have her home.

Lauren's transition back to civilian life does not go smoothly and what begins as some erratic behavior quickly signals the possibility of something more troubling at play.  When Lauren offers to take her brother Danny to visit their mother in upstate NY, things take a bizarre twist.

Be Safe, I Love You is a novel that gives the reader plenty to think about. A work of fiction, yes, but a story that will make readers think about the sacrifices, trauma and other after-effects of war that face our returning veterans everyday.  Told from Lauren's POV, the author does a great job developing her characters -- Lauren especially.  The relationship and love between Lauren and her young brother Danny was special and, I guess I can understand why Lauren did some of the things she did along the way.  The lesser characters were interesting as well. I liked how the author showed how each of them changed in the time Lauren was gone, and not necessarily for the better.  The ending was satisfying and left me cautiously optimistic.

I started this book by listening to the audio which was read by Christina Traister, but I felt the tone to be too depressing for me. I did much better with this one when I switched to the print version.

4/5 stars
(eGalley)

7 comments:

  1. Sounds like a powerful and relevant read with what is already happening with so many home from overseas.

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  2. This sounds like a book a lot of people can relate to. I think it might be a good book club pick.

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  3. Probably a bit too close to home for me. My best friend's son and nephew have returned and it has been difficult for them.

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  4. I have three nephews, all in the military and they all reacted to the experience in different ways. One, not so well and his return to civilian life has been very difficult. Almost to the point of being unable to function and he never saw combat, just the after effects of his friends who lost limbs and sometimes their own lives. It's such a rough situation to be in because most of the time, these kids are still kids when they go in.

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  5. I've heard great things about this book and I'm especially interested in PTSD in returning soldiers after having read David Finkel's nonfiction book on the topic, Thank You For Your Service.

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  6. I'm glad that it left you optimistic, but it still seems like just another thing to worry about for me. I'm trying to lighten my load these days :)

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  7. Great review Diane! I'm glad you enjoyed this. It does sound especially relevant to these times.

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