” Be Safe I Love You” By Cara Hoffman is one such book. When I read the excerpt, I liked it and decided to read it although I haven’t read or heard about the author before. But I’m glad that I did.
★★★★ (4 out of 5)
Lauren Clay, a soldier returns from her duty in Iraq to his family on holidays. She has a father and a young brother at home, and her mother abandoned them at an early age.
Before becoming a soldier, Lauren was a trained singer and had a great bond with her younger brother Danny. But to provide for her family, she decides to enlist, which provided well for the family, but the job took away something important from inside her.
When she returns home, she brings back the war with her and has a difficult time adjusting in her hometown even with people with whom she grew. And she is continually anxious. Not many people recognize this change in her.
She and her brother like exploration. She decides to take up a tour with her brother on the pretense of visiting their mother upstate. But they end up in Canada near an oil field on the way to meeting her friend from duty in Iraq. She is trying hard to toughen up her brother so that he can survive on his own. Her father and others get worried when they can’t find her and realize that she could be having trouble due to her memories from the war.
The rest of the story deals with what her real plans were and what is she trying to achieve and where do both she and her brother end up. Will she be able to survive?
What I Think
There are several war stories and many stories on soldiers who come back from war with scars deep inside. The troubled soldiers have a difficult time adjusting in the civilian settings, and many of them end up their lives or do something nasty.
It’s not a new take or an entirely new story; nevertheless, the author handles this small town story of a war-stricken soldier’s return beautifully. Although it’s about a female soldier but the beauty of writing is that it’s not women-centric, it could have easily been the story of a male soldier. Yet the fragrance of that female character lingers throughout the book, and you end up remembering that this is Lauren’s story.
The pain and anguish of war mixed with emotions of coming back to home after seeing the ravages of war and trying to figure out a place for yourself in this world is well portrayed by the author.
It’s neither very depressing nor a routine story. Lauren, where she is struggling to control herself, and find herself in the ‘new’ surroundings, is at the same time cognizant of the rights and the wrongs. Although, she doesn’t like what happened to her brother when she was gone and wants to make him suited to face this world, there at the same time she doesn’t go all ballistic on him.
The bond between Lauren and Danny is heartwarming, and the rest of the characters also do justice to the story. The story doesn’t seem to drag at any time and neither it feels boring.
It’s difficult to understand the mindset of soldiers or people who have seen the ugliest side of life. The vagaries of war can play havoc on a soldier’s life. And it’s tricky to write that doing justice to that pain and emotional trauma without sensationalizing it, to sell more books.
This book does that very well. If there is a lot of pain, then it also depicts the warmth of relationship and weirdness of a small town and joy of family and friends who are lucky enough to have their dear ones return from war.
Be Safe I Love You By Cara Hoffman is a good read and will keep you engaged throughout. Do give it a try.
You can buy this book at a low price from Amazon.in