I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Collateral by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Atria Books on November 6th 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Verse
Source: the Publisher
Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned
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.
‘Each returning soldier is an in-the-flesh memoir of war. Their chapters might vary, but similar imagery fills the pages, and the theme of every book is the same – profound change. The big question became, could I live with that kind of change?’
Alternating between the past and present, Collateral tells the story of Ashley and a marine named Cole. How they met. How they fell in love. How Ashley was transformed by Cole’s deployment and how she struggled to make it through by using pills and alcohol to quiet her constant fears. Collateral was a deeply moving story that tells the tale of the one left behind in time of war, and how life can be when you love a soldier.
Collateral is a realistic story in every sense because the war depicted within the pages is the exact war we’re all living with today. Just as dark, gritty, and emotional as her other works with just enough hint at reality to make you wonder just how fictional it really is. Collateral does showcase the ‘worst-case scenario’ of loving a soldier, but that certainly makes it no less tangible. My heart ached for Ashley, her pain being so evident. I loved the snippets of Cole’s poetry, being able to see his outlook on his life in contrast with Ashley’s. Ellen Hopkins is truly an amazing writer and I’m so thankful for her stories. She uses no different words than any normal person but the way she uses them ends up turning them into something truly profound.
‘Alone in this untamed
empty place, I free
a relentless volley
of words. They
against the pages, a torrent
of what was, what is,
what yet may come.
And when at last the spirits
I find echoed
in their retreat, stories
I dare not give voice to –
nightmares set adrift
in my paper harbor.’