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.