In Cara Hoffman’s novel Be Safe I Love You, Lauren Clay, a young combat veteran from the Iraq War, returns home to her working class roots in small-town upstate New York. Lauren’s struggles to readjust to civilian life ultimately manifest in full-blown PTSD, and Hoffman’s prose provides a lyrical, harrowing reminder of war’s rippling repercussions. But Lauren’s story is as much about the society she lives in as her mental state, as the novel centers more on class and gender than bombs and battalions.
Since its release last year, Be Safe I Love You has been named one of the five best modern war novels by the Sunday Telegraph. It’s currently being made into a movie by Saudi director Haifaa Al Mansour, and the paperback edition is set for release on April 21.
VICE spoke with Hoffman about the dual roles of nurturer and aggressor that falls on female soldiers, the surprising statistics about rape in the military, our perception of gender in combat, and what relationship Lauren Clay bears to Jeanne d’Arc:
For more, read Elizabeth’s full article on VICE.