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Be Safe I Love You: A Novel Audiobook, by Cara Hoffman Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Cara Hoffman Narrator: Christina Traister Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2014 ISBN: 9781480586406
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This widely acclaimed novel about a female soldier who returns from Iraq haunted by a tragic mistake is “beautifully written…suspenseful and smart and tender in unexpected moments” (Miami Herald) and was named one of the 5 Best in Modern War Fiction by The Sunday Telegraph.

Before she enlisted, classically-trained singer Lauren Clay had been accepted to a prestigious music conservatory, but her family’s financial demands—worsened by her parents’ divorce and her father’s declining mental health—pushed her in another direction. Joining the army allowed Lauren to provide for her family—especially her younger brother Danny, whose quirky, heartfelt letters to her overseas are signed, be safe, I love you.

When she arrives home unexpectedly, it’s clear to her friends and family that something is profoundly wrong with Lauren. But her father is so happy to have her home that he ignores her odd behavior, as well as the repeated phone calls from an army psychologist. Things seem better when Lauren offers to take Danny on a trip to visit their mother upstate, but 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. What happens there will change Sergeant Lauren Clay’s family forever, as she must finally face what she saw, and did, in Iraq.

Be Safe I Love You is “a rare, illuminating glimpse into the distinctive experience and psyche of a female vet” (Boston Globe); “a riveting suspense story and a frank portrayal of war’s psychic damage” (Ms. Magazine); and “a painful exploration of the devastation wrought by combat even when the person returns from war without a scratch…this book is a reminder that art and love are all that can keep us from despair” (The New York Times Book Review).

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Quotes & Awards

  • “In so many ways, we still think of warfare and soldiering as male endeavors. The plight of the female soldier remains largely out of view—in print media, on television news, even in fiction and film. Through Lauren, Cara Hoffman’s thoroughly researched and carefully crafted heroine, Be Safe I Love You illuminates the distaff side of military service and the ways that life in uniform are at once different and, at times, uncannily similar for men and women. Toward the end of this fine novel, Lauren finds a new life for herself based on her old passions, but Hoffman doesn’t give us the sense that she’s fully healed. Rather, she is, in her own way, soldiering on, a woman forever changed.”

    Washington Post

  • “In prose that is both powerful and poetic, Hoffman paints a searing portrait of PTSD and the disconnect of the returning vet amid the well-meaning but clueless…Even more compelling is the novel’s rare, illuminating glimpse into the distinctive experience and psyche of a female vet. Hoffman challenges us to imagine how extraordinarily difficult it must be to reconcile the innate protective instincts of the caregiver with a culture of violence and orders to kill. Yet she does that beautifully and poignantly, without destroying our hope for redemption and healing.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Beautifully written and unflinching in its honesty…[Be Safe I Love You] is a penetrating social critique: 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)…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.”

    Miami Herald

  • “Extremely intense and completely engrossing…Be Safe I Love You is one of the best written studies we have of the returning veterans and what they bring with them and what they face.”

  • “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.”

    Guardian (UK)

  • “A riveting suspense story and a frank portrayal of war’s psychic damage.”

    Ms. magazine

  • “It’s good to know that a female protagonist doesn’t have to be ‘nice’ in order to be compelling…In Be Safe I Love You, Hoffman pulls us in brilliantly.”

  • “Excellent…describes the troubled homecoming of US Army Sergeant Lauren Clay to Watertown, New York, from a tour of duty in Iraq…Hoffman fills her tight narrative with an ominous sense of imminent violence…[a] haunting page turner.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Hoffman opens the novel with an ominous prolog that creates a mild sense of dread that lasts until the final chapter, and she tells Lauren’s story in glimpses and through multiple viewpoints, which helps build suspense. It takes a long time for the reader to comprehend the true nature of Lauren’s emotional instability and the extent of her post-traumatic stress disorder, which is revealed in a trip with her brother that turns into something else. Verdict: Though Hoffman manages to incorporate comic elements, this is 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 latest novel centers on a female soldier who comes home to a reality in which she feels alienated and out of sync…For those who like their prose spare and unembellished, beware: Hoffman has nothing in common with the Hemingway school of writing. But she does an admirable job of conveying the confusion and helplessness of a returning warrior with PTSD who is trying to reintegrate into society and finds it makes little sense. And Hoffman has a knack for bringing her characters to life while providing readers with a reason to care about them.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • One of Telegraph (London) Best Books of Modern War Fiction
  • One of the BBC’s Best Books for Spring 2014

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About the Author

Cara Hoffman is the author of three award-winning novels for adults and also novels for children and young adults. She has received a MacDowell Fellowship and an Edward Albee Fellowship. She is a graduate of Goddard College and a professor of writing and literature.

About the Narrator

Christina Traister, Earphones Award–winning narrator, has worked nationally as a professional actor for over fifteen years with a career focusing on classical theater. She teaches acting, voice, and stage combat in the Department of Theatre at Michigan State University.