Collateral by Ellen Hopkins
November 6, 2012 -Atria Books
512 pages – Adult, Fiction, verse novel, war, domestic violence,
I received a copy of this digital galley, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.
From Goodreads: The gripping story of a woman torn between love for her boyfriend, a dedicated Marine deployed to Afghanistan, and the resentment she has for the war that is tearing their lives apart.
Written in Hopkins’s stunning poetic verse style, Collateral centers on Ashley, an MFA student at San Diego State University. She grew up reading books and never dreamed she would become a military wife. One night she meets a handsome soldier named Cole. He doesn’t match the stereotype of the aggressive military man. He’s passionate and romantic. He even writes poetry. Their relationship evolves into a sexually charged love affair that goes on for five years and survives four deployments. Cole wants Ashley to marry him, but when she meets another man, a professor with similar pursuits and values, she begins to see what life might be like outside the shadow of war.
Collateral captures the hearts of the soldiers on the battlefield and the minds of the friends, family, and lovers they leave behind. Those who remain at home may be far away from the relentless, sand-choked skies of the Middle East and the crosshairs of a sniper rifle, but just the same, all of them will sacrifice a part of themselves for their country and all will eventually ask themselves if the collateral damage caused by war is worth the fight.
I am a long-time fan of Ellen Hopkins. Unfrotunately, I discovered her before all of her books were out. So, in the process of waiting, I have fallen behind. Yes, I started with her young adult novels and Collateral is her second adult book. Of course, this is written in verse. Which creates a different and intimate rhythm to the entire story. I wasn’t disappointed with this one. It was a loving and heartbreaking look into the life of a soldier and the people who choose to love them. My dad was an Army man. By the time I came along he was in the reserves. I was a full fledged adult before he was pulled out of the reserves and into active duty. He was shipped overseas to Iraq, and when he came back he was different. He was still the man that I knew and loved, but his time over there changed him. But then again, the army had already changed him. He had fought in the Vietnam war when he was younger-right at 18 I believe. So I can relate with the possibilities of the effects of war, but not directly.
War changes all soldiers, young or old. There are bits of Ashley, Celine and Darian in all women who chooses to love a soldier. There are pieces of Cole, Luke and Spencer in every soldier. Yes, every soldier is capable of brutal, callous, violence. But not every soldier wraps themselves in the violence. Every soldier’s story is different, no matter how similar the experiences. Ashley’s story is mixed with love, beauty, pain and self-discovery. Hopkins did an excellent job of telling her story with all of the ugliness, beauty, faith and uncertainty that comes with loving a soldier.