Collateral is Ellen Hopkins’s newest novel. It tells the story of Ashley, a grad student at San Diego State University. She’s studying to be a social worker, but she’s not sure that’s really the path she wants to take. Something else she’s not sure about is marrying her Marine beau, Cole. They had met in a bar five years earlier. It wasn’t love at first sight like with their friends Darian and Spencer, but it did turn from lust to love pretty quickly. Together, they’ve survived four deployments, a death of a parent, and an old flame coming back into the picture. But a war can easily change a person. It can turn a once sweet, loving, poetry writing man into a paranoid, angry, bitter death machine. As Ashley witnesses this change in Cole, she starts to second guess her time spent with him and her plans for a future with him. She also meets another man, a professor, who shows her what it could be like to be with someone who LIVES – and not just for the war, but for other things. For doing what he loves.
This was an excellent book. Mrs. Hopkins had me gripped from the very first page. She is my favorite author for a reason and that is because she really knows how to put you inside the characters’ minds. And not just the main characters, but the supporting ones too. She makes such a connection between her readers and the people in her stories to the point where you feel as though you’re reading about yourself.
Collateral shows the struggle of being a military wife AND of being a military man. It describes the sacrifices and challenges that go with loving someone and doing all you can for them, while learning to do what you need to do for yourself. This novel makes you think up until the very end when Ashley finally makes her choice. I can’t wait to read Mrs. Hopkins’s next tale. 🙂