Meet Ashley, a graduate student at San Diego State University. She was raised in northern California reading poetry and singing backupin her best friend’s band. The last thing she ever expected was to end up a military wife. But one night, she meets a handsome Marine named Cole. He doesn’t match the stereotype of the aggressive military man she’d always presumed to be true; he’s passionate and romantic, and he even writes poetry. Their relationship evolves into a deeply felt, sexually charged love affair that goes on for five years and survives four deployments. Cole desperately wants Ashley to marry him, but when she meets another man, a college professor, with similar professional pursuits and values, she begins to see what life might be like outside the shadow of war.
If you are looking for a “not your typical read,” Collateral by Ellen Hopkins may meet your needs.
Collateral is a story written in free verse about Ashley, a college student who falls in love with Cole, a Marine serving in Afghanistan.
Even though though the storyline, topics and feelings are very strong, I didn’t love the free verse style as much as I thought I would. I am a lover of poetry, but this style made it hard for me to follow along.
I love books with more than one character’s point of view and I appreciated reading both Ashley and Cole’s thoughts. Where Ashley was a bit resentful of Cole’s military duties, she was also sweetly in love, which was endearing.
I cannot imagine having a spouse or loved on in the military and I respected Ashley’s feelings as she felt the loss of Cole each time he left and the sadness and fear she felt knowing he might never come back to her. Interwoven between the strong emotions between Cole and Ashley are interesting insights about history and politics that really showed me the complications of war, and the seriousness of post traumatic stress syndrome, which are things I don’t know alot about but enjoyed learning about. I also enjoyed the poetry written by some of the characters.
As I read Collateral, I found myself wishing for more action, more interaction with characters and I wanted to see them make plans and move forward with their lives and romance. Instead, I read alot about their feelings and the struggles of waiting for Cole to come home after deployment.
Even though the writing style was hard for me to read, the characters in this book are heartwarmingly real, the emotions are raw and the situations made me really think about what it might be like to walk in their shoes.
Readers of Collateral will find a lot of topics to relate to, but may find themselves asking for more.
Thank you to Atria for our review copy. All opinions are our own.
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