Be Safe I Love You

A Novel

Be Safe I Love You

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 & Schuster | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451641318 | 
  • April 2014
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Cara Hoffman on Be Safe, I Love You

Cara Hoffman on writing female characters in the military, and finding beauty among unseemly landscapes.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Be Safe I Love You includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Cara Hoffman. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Returning to her upstate New York hometown after serving in Iraq, Lauren Clay is haunted by emotional battle scars and has trouble adjusting to civilian life. She struggles to reconnect with family and friends before setting out with her younger brother on a winter road trip to visit Canada’s remote wilderness—a journey that will determine her future, for better or for worse. Be Safe I Love You is a poignant, impassioned novel about the devastating effects of war, both on the front lines and at home.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. “She was back but didn’t feel so far away from Iraq,” admits Lauren (page 9). How does she see her family and friends in a new light since returning from the war zone? How do they, in turn, view her? Why are they so quick to believe that Lauren is fine or, in Jack’s case, that he can help her simply by offering snacks and a willing ear?

2. How do Lauren’s roles as soldier and caregiver become intertwin see more

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About the Author

Cara Hoffman
Photograph by Constance Faulk

Cara Hoffman

Cara Hoffman is the author of the critically acclaimed novels So Much Pretty and Be Safe I Love You. She teaches writing and literature at Bronx Community College and lives in New York City.