Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman

3 Star

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 allowed Lauren to continue to provide for her family, but it came at a great cost.

When she arrives home unexpectedly, it's clear to everyone in their rural New York town that something is wrong. But her father is so happy to have her home that he ignores her odd behavior and the repeated phone calls from an army psychologist. He wants to give Lauren time and space to acclimate to civilian life.

Things seem better when Lauren offers to take Danny on a trip to visit their mother upstate. Instead, she guides them 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 lodge, 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?

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Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

I feel like Be Safe I Love You was probably very honest about the reality of a returning soldier and I definitely found it raw at times but that made it difficult to read. I did keep having to put it down and convince myself to keep reading it. I am not entirely sure why but something about it bothered me beyond just the obvious subject. I do appreciate that it is not something easy to write about and I also believe that this is probably a story that is true to a soldier's reality and my biggest hurdle was probably that I found the writing, at times, disjointed.

The main character, Lauren, is definitely going through some major changes having returned from her tour of duty. But I got the feeling that there was something going on that started before she went away to war and being on duty definitely did not help the situation. I never really clearly understood if there was more to her before the resulting PTSD or not?  

The story left me unsatisfied because I was expecting something good to happen. Maybe a knight in shining armor or something positive or at least for it to not always be so sad and depressing but that wasn`t to be. Be Safe I Love You is a realistic account but definitely not an easy read.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

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