be safe i love you book coverReviewed by Benish Khan

Be Safe I Love You explores a tragedy as seen through a female soldier’s eyes. Before Lauren Clay enlisted she was a classically trained singer. By joining the army, Lauren was allowed to support and care for her family. Her choice, however, certainly cost her a lot in other ways.

When Lauren returns home for the holidays after a stint in Iraq, everyone knows that something is wrong. Lauren’s army psychologist keeps on calling as well. When Lauren takes her brother Danny on a trip to visit their mother upstate, she instead detours to the glacial woods of Canada. She has developed a strange obsession with the site of the oil field and as they set up camp in the woods, Lauren believes she is teaching Danny survival skills. She believes these skills will come in handy when she is no longer able to take care of Danny. Danny, however, does not understand why Lauren is behaving in such a way and keeps wondering what actually happened to her in Iraq.

The author, Cara Hoffman, writes with the understanding of what soldiers go through when they return from war, especially female soldiers. She explores the side effects of war, both good and bad, and shows that even women who stay at home waiting for others to return can be affected.

Lauren is a female character many women will relate to. She is strong and determined, yet hard-headed at the same time. The novel does have multiple perspectives that are sometimes hard to keep up with. The plot itself was slow, and the ending seemed quite rushed as all the characters’ problems were resolved all at once. I wish the characters were more thoroughly developed and Lauren’s transformation explored further. Otherwise, this novel does have plenty of potential and it provides insight on women at war and at home.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Benish Khan has her B.A in Psychology and Religion from the University of New York. She’s a psychologist and artist by day, and a bookworm by night. She currently blogs at feministreflections.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.