Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman, published February 2015 by Little Brown Group UK.
Read: February 2015
Source: Publisher – this does not affect my opinion of the book.
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads Synopsis: 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, and her brother, Danny, 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.
Be Safe I Love You is a novel about war and homecoming, love and duty, and an impassioned look at the effects of war on women, as soldiers and caregivers, both at home and on the front lines.
Be Safe I Love You (I LOVE that title) was set to be a fascinating read that explores mental health, the experiences and reintegration of war veterans into society, and how all of these things impact upon a young female. This story has a clear anti-war message, and while there were some elements I enjoyed, particularly in the first half, there were also elements that I felt could have been much better executed.
The themes this novel touch on are really what drew me in to this book, I felt the depiction of the mental health issues were initially realistic and heart-felt, and I enjoyed reading about Lauren and her family’s back-story. However, I found the plot developments and pacing of this novel to be a little slow, which wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if the story-line hadn’t have felt so disjointed. I was left wondering if this was intentional to somehow show Lauren’s struggle with PTSD, or if it just so happened to be how the book was written.
There were secondary characters who had their own story-arcs, and I would have preferred for some of them to have been given more page-time. We got snippets of what was happening with them, but not enough that I became emotionally invested, to the point where I didn’t feel they were adding much to the overall story. The novel at times seemed to lack direction, which presents the reader with the difficult task of trying to figure out the point as you go along.
The ending was anti-climatic in comparison to the build-up – in fact, I went back a couple of pages and reread them because I was sure I had missed the big reveal/ending. I actually had, and read it a couple more times just to make sure that I got it. I also felt that the huge struggles Lauren faced were far too neatly wrapped up in the epilogue. The book lost all sense of realism for me then. I think I wanted to love, or even like, this book much more than I actually did.
“Afterward they didn’t talk about these fires. About how they were learning to be patient with fear. How there was no such thing as undoing, and that putting out a flame didn’t mean it hadn’t burned.”
“Almost every soldier she knew was waiting to bleed out their life for the contents of a castle. For the promise they would be loved or be a hero. The false idea that there was something bigger, something more, that there was a reason.”
“But sometimes leaving makes the most sense, does the least damage. Sometimes it’s the better option.”
Be Safe I Love You has received a lot of high ratings on Goodreads. Have you read this book? Did you love it? Let me know in the comments!