Praise for Be Safe I Love You
“A searing, unforgettable, and beautifully written tale about the corrosive effects of war on the psyche, a contemporary version of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried with a female protagonist.”—Library Journal (starred review)
"Hoffman’s second novel is a fierce and nuanced tribute to women warriors." --BBC 10 Best Books for Spring
"A riveting suspense story and a frank portrayal of war's psychic damage." --Ms. Magazine
“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. Lauren’s vulnerability and torment are elegantly rendered.”—Roxane Gay for Buzzfeed
“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
"Beautifully written and unflinching in its honesty, Cara Hoffman’s provocative second novel offers a window into events we’d prefer to see less clearly...
Hoffman paints a vivid and nuanced portrait of post-traumatic stress disorder and raises questions about class divisions (the working class being more directly affected by American warfare than anyone else). Be Safe I Love You is a terrific story, suspenseful and smart and tender in unexpected moments, but it’s also a call to action, a heartfelt demand for us to pay closer attention to the costly fallout of violence... Hoffman proves that words are often the real tools of survival in this flawed but still often golden world."
--The Miami Herald
"Hoffman does for upstate New York what Faulkner did for the American South; she makes the setting come alive with a power that transforms Watertown into character in and of itself, imbuing the novel with a mythical, regional realism."
--Rivard Report, San Antonio
“Be Safe I Love You is a potent reminder of the far-reaching damage that people do in the name of power, oil and God.” - Gulf News
“Excellent . . . describes the troubled homecoming of U.S. Army Sergeant Lauren Clay to Watertown, N.Y., from a tour of duty in Iraq. . . . Hoffman fills her tight narrative with an ominous sense of imminent violence. . . . [a] haunting page turner.”
"A brave, intelligent and unflinching war novel...Hoffman's prose is near perfect: intense and imaginative, each sentence heavy with meaning without feeling overwritten. She balances the tightrope of not flinching away from violence, but also not lovingly describing it. War is never glamourised." --The List Magazine
“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
“Be Safe I Love You neutralizes the question of gender when it comes to warfare. The powerful and timely issues being asked in the novel are: what are we doing to young people when sending them far away to fight in shifting, unending conflicts? And how are we prepared to help them when/if they make it back?" --Gilmore Guide to Books
“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
“Cara Hoffman gets it. She gets what war does to soldiers, inside and out, and she gets what they must face when they come home from war. Lauren Clay is a character readers won’t forget: determined, admirable, and so loving that even as she goes to hell and back, we are ready to go with her. A riveting novel full of compassion for veterans and those who love them.”
--Helen Benedict, author of The Sand Queen and The Lonely Soldier
“Be Safe I Love You is haunting and unforgettable and, best of all, burrows deep into the mind of a female warrior. It's an important story readers should read and heed.”
--David Abrams, author of FOBBIT
Cara Hoffman delivers an impassioned story about the effects of war on women—as soldiers and caregivers, both at home and on the front lines.
Lauren Clay has just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq in time to spend Christmas with her family. As she reconnects with her old friends, it’s clear to everyone in their rural New York town that something is wrong with Lauren. But her father is so happy to have her home that he ignores the warning signs—her odd behavior and the repeated phone calls from an Army psychologist. Things seem better when Lauren offers to take her younger brother Danny on a trip to visit their mother upstate. Instead, she guides Danny 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. As they set up camp in an abandoned hunting village, Lauren believes she’s teaching Danny survival skills for the day when she’s no longer able to take care of him. But where does she think she’s going,
and what happened to her in Iraq that set her on this path?
With all the boldness and intelligence she brought to So Much Pretty, Cara Hoffman ignites the dark truth about war and homecoming in this literary page-turner that is sure to linger long after its surprising secrets are revealed.
Forthcoming in April from Simon and Schuster.