04/24/2014 09:27 pm ET Updated Jun 24, 2014

'Be Safe I Love You' Tells One Veteran's Story

Book Review Jackie K Cooper
Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman

Cara Hoffman's latest novel Be Safe I Love You is extremely intense and completely engrossing. This book centers on one woman returning from her tour of duty in Iraq. She has been changed by her service, but one thing remains constant - her love for her twelve-year-old brother. Their relationship forms the core of this gripping story.

Lauren Clay was a caretaker long before she joined the service. Her parents' marriage was troubled for many years before they divorced and Lauren moved into protective mode. She provided her brother Danny with as much stability as she could. Then after her mother moved out she took care of Danny and her father.

In order to have money for Danny's care and education she joined the Army upon graduation. She denied herself a college education and a career as a musician. All of her dreams were sublimated to her family's welfare.

When she returned from Iraq she was a changed person but most of her friends and family didn't notice it. They noticed minor changes but thought they were just traits that would return to normal after she got used to being home. But Lauren and her idea of protective mode would place both her and Danny in danger.

Hoffman gets inside Lauren's brain and lets the reader see the reason for her unlikely behavior. You can understand Lauren's reasoning but it does not bode well for her safe return to normalcy. She is a young woman teetering on the brink of insanity, but she sees it as the only rational path to follow.

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. Hoffman dissects and analyzes those things which are the major hindrances to an easy flow back into the civilian world.

With more and more military coming back from hostile situations it is necessary for the general public to have an understanding of where they have been and what they now face coming home. Be Safe I Love You presents a clear picture of these situations.

Cara Hoffman is to be commended for her insight. She has written a novel that will hold you spellbound as it spells out its story. Lauren Clay is a character about whom you will want to know more and more; her brother Danny will also pique your curiosity. Between them they make BE SAFE I LOVE YOU a book to savor.

Be Safe I Love You is published by Simon and Schuster. It contains 304 pages and sells for $26.00.

Jackie K Cooper