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Be Safe I Love You: ‘tense and stunning’, one of the 5 Best Modern War Novels

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Today we’re delighted to publish the paperback of Cara Hoffman’s exquisite novel Be Safe I Love Youa stunning story about all the wars we fight, on the frontlines and at home.

If you missed it in hardback, you’re missing out on a book that was named one of the five Best Modern War Novels (by the Sunday Telegraph, alongside The Yellow Birds and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk), was nominated for the Folio Prize as one of the best books published in 2014, gained rave reader reviews (with hundreds giving it four or five stars on Goodreads), and was equally loved by critics – just a few examples:

In the moving letter below, Cara Hoffman explains where the idea for this unmissable book came from – and why she had to write it.

‘I started writing Be Safe I Love You to show how war affects not just the men and women who fight, but whole families and communities. Homecoming is never a simple joyous parade. Some folks return intact and some don’t. And most people are unaware more American soldiers and veterans have committed suicide in the last decade than have died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their families live not just with the aftermath of these deaths but with the painful and complex mix of terror and sorrow that come before them. A lot of research went into writing this book, particularly on women soldiers, but some of the writing was closer to the bone.

My older brother enlisted when he was in his teens, became a paratrooper, remained in the National Guard, did two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and worked for many years as a military contractor. Before he joined the army he read a lot of science fiction and had a gift for physical comedy. We played mad libs and built forts.

When I was in middle school he returned home on leave, unrecognizably fit, and proceeded to teach me—a nerdy four-foot-six eleven-year-old—how to kill someone. How to punch them in the throat or push my thumbs into their eyes. How to fight with everyday objects, how to jump off a roof or out of a moving car.

These were not skills I could employ in the school library where I spent most of my time. To this day I have never needed to jump out of a moving car or off a roof or to kill a person with a plastic drinking straw. But I have a very clear understanding of what combat training makes of a home.

Be Safe I Love You is about war and family. About the bonds between siblings. About trauma and resilience; and what is sacred and what is not.

It is a picture of the lives of military families, especially women soldiers, and an elegy for my brother who taught me to survive the things he taught me, and for whom I am still waiting to come home.’

Cara Hoffman

Read the start at bit.ly/BeSafeILoveYouExtract, and watch Cara Hoffman discuss the book at bit.ly/BeSafeILoveYouVideo.

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