Returning with deep psychological scars after a tour of duty in Iraq, woman soldier Lauren Clay guides her younger brother to an upstate New York oil field that has become the subject of her obsession and begins teaching him survival skills while revealing her experiences. By the author of So Much Pretty. - (Baker & Taylor)
Returning with deep psychological scars after a tour of duty in Iraq, soldier Lauren Clay guides her younger brother to an upstate New York oil field that has become the subject of her obsession and begins teaching him survival skills while revealing herexperiences. - (Baker & Taylor)
Named one of the 5 Best in Modern War Fiction, alongside The Yellow Birds and Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk —The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
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?
From a writer whom The New York Times Book Review says, “writes with a restraint that makes poetry of pain,” 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. - (Simon and Schuster)
In this story about a female soldier returning from a tour of duty in Iraq, Hoffman (So Much Pretty, 2011) does many things well, including her depictions of sibling dynamics, setting (both upstate New York and Iraq), and the working-class mind-set. But what she does best of all is to capture the symptoms and fallout of PTSD. Lauren Clay is an excellent student, but her parents' divorce has wreaked havoc on her father's ability to earn a living and care for his children, so Lauren, ever the responsible one, has taken up the slack. She's the one who makes sure her younger brother has enough to eat and arrives at school on time. When her father receives a foreclosure notice, she decides to enlist in the army for the signing bonus instead of attending college. But what she undergoes in the bloody desert of Iraq changes her forever. She comes home, but everyone who knows her best can sense that she's not quite right. Hoffman describes in visceral prose the disorientation, guilt, and shame of returning war vets. A page-turner that also offers impassioned social critique. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
Hoffman's debut, So Much Pretty, came in for considerable praise from some impressive venues (it was a New Yorker Books Pick). So it's hardly surprising that her second novel has such a germane and startling premise. Though the family and friends of Lauren Clay are happy to see her back from Iraq, they can't help noticing that she seems not quite right. Then she takes younger brother Danny into the icy Canadian wilderness, intent on teaching him survival skills for reasons only she understands.
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Library Journal Reviews
Lauren Clay returns from a tour of duty in Iraq to her small, dead-end upstate New York town on Christmas Day. A gifted singer, she had given up a full scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in order to enlist. Practically a mother to her beloved younger brother since their mother abandoned the family years earlier and with a father incapacitated by depression, Lauren single-handedly supports her small family. Hoffman (So Much Pretty) 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. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/13.]—Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY
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