Read Collateral by Ellen Hopkins Online


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 miThe 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....

Title : Collateral
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781451626377
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 496 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Collateral Reviews

  • Bonnie
    2019-01-06 03:03

    A review copy of Collateral was kindly provided to me by Atria Books.'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 untamedempty place, I freea relentless volleyof words. Theyrageagainst the pages, a torrentof what was, what is, what yet may come. And when at last the spiritsrecede, I find echoed in their retreat, stories I dare not give voice to - nightmares set adrift in my paper harbor.'

  • Sarah
    2018-12-29 04:38

    {This review was originally published on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves.}[...] Service. Sacrifice. The problem with that being, everyone attached to those soldiers must sacrifice, too. So, as some Afghani warlordmight say,put that in yourpipe and smoke it. Okay, that was actually my grandpa’s saying. But it works, and what I mean is, think long and hard before offering your heart to someone who can only accept it part time. It’s fitting that Ellen Hopkins’ newest novel-in-verse for adults, Collateral, shared its release day, November 6, with the United States election day. It's both timely in its exploration of the effects at home of the country’s long-time military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and in that Collateral also touches on a number of other current issues in this country, creating a heavy-handed, though still beautifully written, snapshot of American life that’s intertwined with the modern military.Written in free verse, Collateral is mostly told from San Diego student Ashely's point-of-view. She meets and falls in love with a Marine, Cole, a guy from rural Wyoming whom she is shocked to discover isn't what she thought of as the stereotype of a military man.You can tell a lot by the way a guy kisses. Cole kissed likesummer rain—barely wet, the temperature of August sky, thunder-punctuated. Delicious. Cole writes poetry, he's smart, he's funny. Their relationship is intense, and Collateral spans five years and four of Cole's deployments.The title of the book--Collateral--demonstrates the main theme of the book: collateral damage.Or to put it more explicitly, the unintended costs of war, in this case meaning the people left behind at home. Ashley is very much an idealist, she sees the world in good versus bad, so dating a Marine explodes her universe, pushing her out of her comfort zone. The early chapters in which Ashley comes to terms with the knowledge that people in "The Military" are real people and not simply part of a monolithic culture are the strongest of the story. Interspersed with verse from Ashley's perspective (there are also poems written by Ashley sprinkled in the text) are poems written by Cole, which provide a glimpse into what his life in the military is like. These poems were the most moving for me. They illustrate how, despite his best efforts, things are not all right for Cole. He loves Ashley and misses her deeply, but he also feels deeply feels his commitment to his career in the military, despite the trauma of his experiences. The Weight of Silence The plain is still, emptiedof even the thinnestsounds—the murmurof creeping sand;pillowed spin of tumbleweed;susurrus of feathers trappedin thermal lift. The well is dry, drainedabove desiccated silt. Thirst swells, bloats every cell untilthe body arcs beneath its weight.The page is blank,scrubbed of metaphor, flawlessturn of phrase. Parched within the silence, hungeredin a desert without wordsI am strandedin your absence. Also strong is a subplot about Ashley's close childhood friend, Darian, who's military husband is severely injured. Darian has been unfaithful to her husband during his deployment, and Ashley has helped her carry on this subterfuge. The decision Darian faces is an unimaginable one, and even though Darian's actions earlier in Collateral were wrong, it is difficult not to feeling sympathetic toward her. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Ashley's character development.Ashley is portrayed as smart, creative and sensitive. And yet, her actions belied none of this. Instead, she is judgmental, selfish and immature. While I generally do not take issue with difficult characters--and often enjoy unlikable narrators--in Collateral, there's such a striking difference between what I'm supposed to believe about Ashley and who she really is that I found myself challenged to care about her journey at all. For example, at one point Cole is granted leave and plans to visit his mother in Wyoming. Ashley becomes enraged that he didn't first think to spend the holidays with her, at her family's home in Lodi, California. She never wants to share Cole, not with his family, not with his friends and certainly not with the military. And I think this scene served to prove what is much of the point of the book, that when a person is in a relationship with someone in the military, they never get to keep them all to themselves. However, that's also called being a grown up. In the grown up world, we don't own people, even those we love the most. Compromise is one of the lessons most people learn as they enter adulthood.Cole's ability to compromise in a normal manner is limited due to his job, but Ashley's myopic point-of-view cannot see that. She really believes that she should be the center of her boyfriend's world. I suppose that's not an unusual perspective for someone in their early twenties, but nevertheless, she doesn't grow beyond this, despite the deeply difficult journey she is on throughout Collateral. Ultimately, Ashley is unwilling to make a decision about what direction she wants for her relationship with Cole until her hand is forced and a new man (her professor, continuing the oh-so-frustrating trend of student-teacher relationships in novels) piques her interest. Furthermore, Collateral is far too heavy-handed with its political commentary. A book tackling war naturally has an undertone of politics, because the two are intrinsically linked. However, Collateral crossed a line for me into social commentary because the characters and viewpoints were so dichotomous. I didn’t mention it to Cole (a rabidRepublican),I was out stumping forHillary Clinton. I figured it was pasttime for a woman to run the show, and hopefully extricate us from the quagmire. By the end of the novel, Cole's character has devolved in an extremely predictable manner that is clearly intended to illustrate who and what is right and who and what is wrong. And yet, this endpoint does not entirely make sense based on brief glimpses of his character's point-of-view. Additionally, I realize that verse is Hopkins' signature style--and I adore verse novels--I was never convinced that this story was best told in verse.The sparse rhythm of the verse is very immediate and intense, which meant that potential nuance was lost. I would have loved to have read more detail about Ashley's thoughts and more subtleties of conversation. Because the novel is so political, the verse format at times felt more like a lecture than a story.Dad asked. Cole answered. Mom squirmed.I tried to redirect the dialogue towardWyoming, but it kept coming back to Iraq.When it moved to the newly electedCommander in Chief, Cole made it veryclear that he would have preferred John McCain, who had been a soldier. And that awful woman? What about her? asked Mom, who leans harder to the leftthan I do. Cole could have chosennot to engage. Instead, he offeredhis opinion that Ms. Palin couldn’t benearly as bad as Mr. Obama. It fellapart from there. Though the volumeremained low, emotion ran high.We all skipped dessert that night.However, I am certainly many people will adore Ellen Hopkins' Collateral.I can imagine Sandra reading this novel in verse and nodding in her head in agreement quite a bit. And it's yet another book focussed on the very-trendy early-twenties demographic and will likely appear on many "new adult" lists. More importantly, Collateral brings an important subject--the challenges faced by loved ones when soliders deploy--to light.Yet, I prefer a lighter touch which invites the reader to draw their own conclusions; as a result, despite its promising premise, Collateral left me frustrated and disappointed.FNL Character Rating: The version of Lyla we all despise, who believes that everything in her life should fall into place because she's Lyla Garrity.Disclosure: Received for review from the publisher.Initial thoughts:I was so excited for this book but it ultimately was troubling for me. It felt like there was a lot of nuance that could've been explored but wasn't. Plus, the political stuff was fairly heavy handed. With that said, the free verse was very effective and I loved Cole's poems. Longer review to come closer to pub date.

  • Arlene
    2018-12-22 02:45

    “You can’t patrol unfriendly villages without embracing paranoia. You can’t watch your battle buddies blown to bits without jonesing for revenge. You can’t take a blow to the helmet without learning to duck… Paranoia. Revenge. Bloodlust. These things turn boys into men. But what kind of men?”As of late, I’ve found myself attracted to books that center on the recent war in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s these themes that seem to remind me about the things I tend to take for granted… our freedom, our sense of security, and our ability to live our lives with little to no sense of danger, which comes at the sacrifice of our service men and women. When you combine these elements and couple it with the devastating effect war has on our troops, it calls for an emotional and gut punching experience. And that is a small snippet of what Collateral has to offer.I have to say, I’m excited to see more authors tackling this tender subject. However, to take a bold step in giving us a glimpse into the lives of these soldiers after they come home is a courageous and awe-inspiring move. To deliver an honest portrayal that shares the pain, struggle and damaging results in such a brutal yet realistic manner leaves me breathless and contemplative for quite some time.Collateral is a story about Ashley Patterson who is attending San Diego State University. The book takes a glimpse into her undergraduate and graduate years, while she struggles to maintain a relationship with her boyfriend Cole Gleason who is serving as a Marine. Through four deployments and countless months and weeks apart, Ashley knows one thing for certain, she loves her Marine and will wait for however long it takes to see him home and start a life with him. However, war has its harsh realities and to delude yourself that these men and women come back unscathed is ignoring a painful possibility. When Ashley slowly yet surely sees how Cole’s deployments change him as a person, she has to face the fact that the person she loved is not the same person returning home from the war.Overall, I have to say that Ellen Hopkins’s decision to write this story in verse was an absolute brilliant move. It led for a concise, yet powerful portrayal of one girl’s struggle to hold on to the person she fell in love with and try to bring him back in some semblance of who he once was. There were moments in the story that I wanted to send Ashley a distress signal, but as life will dictate, love is blind and war destroys people on both sides of the fence.Collateral is my first novel by Ellen Hopkins and most definitely not my last. Her ability to tap into my emotional psyche and alter my reality map left me floored with what she’s able to deliver. This book is awesome and I hope people will give it a try. I was hooked from the first passage and it held my attention and heart through the very end. Brilliant piece of work by an author that’s carved her mark on my bookshelf.“Be smart, be safe, and if those two things fail, I’ve got your back.”

  • Danielle (Bookwhoreblog) Perez
    2019-01-21 02:50

    Review Originally Post HEREI have been a fan of Ellen Hopkins since first reading her free-verse novel Crank. The series about her daughter's drug addiction captured me and still haunts me to this day. I drifted away from Ellen's writing once her novels became mostly about teen issues and jumped back on board as a fan with her first adult novel Triangles. Collateral even though I enjoyed it falls short of her normal gripping heart wrenching tales. Ellen is a master in tragedy and I always know I can shed a few tears during her novels, so when I learned her latest novel was about a young girl and her love for a soldier I could not wait to grab my box of tissue and leap into this story. Unfortunately I just couldn't fall completely in love with this novel, or get completely lost it in either. Ashley is a people pleasing college student who falls in love with a soldier she meets in a bar. A majority of the relationship these two lovers are in separate countries from one another, and you kind of don't really get to meet Cole accept for in flashback scenes in the book. With each flashback scene I started to hate Cole more and more. You as the reader witness Cole's demise to anger the life of being a soldier has brought him through the "rewind" scenes. Now all of this works for me I get it but where it went wrong for me was the plot, it was pretty much nonexistent. It is more like just reading the life of this girl who's entire life revolves around the life of her soldier. I get that this is what the story is about but I kept waiting for something to happen. While something does happen it isn't exactly worth the buildup of a 500 page book. This is why this book gets 3 out of 5 from me because while I enjoyed the story it could have been stronger and not so drawn out.In the story Ashley has a friend named Darian, I felt like Darian's story was far more powerful than Ashley’s story and had the plot this book was lacking. Only problem; Darian is just a side character with a side story. I am keeping my fingers crossed Darian's story will be her next novel. Now like I said before I did still enjoy the story and I enjoyed Ashley as a character but I just wanted more something. It took me a pretty long time to finish this book and the only reason I made it to the end is because normally Hopkin's has powerful endings, this novel’s ending followed the same pattern as the rest of the book, it just was. You do get a bump but nothing close to the catastrophic endings I am used to as an Ellen Hopkins reader. Normally I finish her books and walk away tearful hungry for more, this time I was just happy for an ending.

  • Jessica Price
    2019-01-22 06:53

    I just have to jump right in and say OH MY GOD. The ending of Collateral was absolutely insane. Totally unexpected; I felt like I had been hit by a train. And I'm so glad that it happened! I was already disappointed thinking to myself about the way I thought it was going to end. Well Ellen Hopkins, you got me again! This is why we, your fans, love you.I didn't know how I was going to react to this book at first because I knew it revolved around the military and marine subject matter. But of course, if Ellen wrote it, I'm going to read it. At first it was a little hard because I wanted to make sure I understood all the lingo and such, so it meant a lot of rereading and looking up words on I learned a lot from this book, especially from the main character, Ashley.Ashley and her friend Darian go to a club one night, just looking for some fun. Who knew they would meet their future special someones? Special someones who just happen to be marines. Ashley and Cole fall in love, deep and fast. His dedication to the forces being one of the things she loves about him, quickly turns into their downfall. When Cole proposes to her on a romantic beach in Hawaii while he's on leave, she says yes. But still doesn't quite feel like it's completely right. Everyone is a against it, but in the end, what will Ashley do? This is her story. Battling her college classes, her very handsome poetry teacher, her best friends infidelity and the near death of her husband, all along with worrying about her Marine. In my opinion, this is a must read. And I already can't wait to reread it in the future. I know the next time I read it, I'm going to take even more from it than I did now. Whether you are an Ellen Hopkins fan or not, you'll learn a lot about these special situations that aren't normally given light, and maybe you'll learn a little something about yourself too.

  • PaulaPhillips
    2019-01-02 09:59

    When I saw Collateral was available for review, I knew I just had to grab it as I have read all of Ellen Hopkins Teenage books and have her latest two books Triangles and Tilt sitting on my Ipad to read, along with her earlier books which I purchased as I just love her work. I first fell in love with Ellen Hopkins books about three or four years ago when I picked up Impulse to read. I loved the way she used poetry to tell a story and the way Ellen targeted those edgy topics which as the years have passed by , I have come to love reading about. One thing that I have to say to readers is do not be discouraged by the size of her books as once you get started on them, you won't be able to put down as Collateral was over 500pgs long. Over the past few years, Ellen has decided to move from writing Teen fiction and into adult books as it shows through her newest release Collateral.Ever wondered what life is like for those who are Army/Marine Wives ? What happens when you only see your boyfriend every once in a while ? What is life really like for those ? Would you have chosen a life like this, if you had to re-do it ?Collateral tells the story of two best friends Ashley and Darian , one night whilst out on the town the pair of them meet a pair of Marines. The pairs click and soon Ashley and Darian are living the life of a Marine girlfriend/wife. Darian ended up married to Spence and living on the base whereas Ashley remained Cole's girlfriend. The book details over five years from the time the pairs meet their boyfriends to the final points of their relationships and the next steps. Five years on , Darian is married to Spence and it seems she has been having numerous affairs. Now she has fallen head over heels with a fellow Army Husband whose wife is in the AirForce part. Is Darian ready to leave her husband for Kenny ? What will happen when Spence is in a terrible accident , will Darian decide to stay or will she leave in the end ? Find out what happens when you are faced with a decision that would ultimately change your life ?Ashley , has been dating Cole and now five years later he has proposed . But, as time goes by is Ashley ready to commit to Cole and be a Marine wife ? Is Cole , really the man she wants to be with for the rest of her life and will Cole ever choose her over his career in the marines ? What will happen when Ashley is given the choice and attention of a civilian by the name of Jonah ? Will she find peace, love and happiness with Jonah or will she realise that her heart will always belong to Cole , no matter where in the world he is ?Collateral , completely told in poetry form is an amazing and touching tale of what life can be like for the Marine/Army etc wives and what being in War can do to both parties and how it can affect lives for the better and for the worst. A story that if you have read Nicholas Spark's The Lucky One or any of Ellen Hopkins previous books you will definitely enjoy and appreciate her wonderful writings

  • Emerald
    2019-01-04 08:07

    “Love can complete you. It can also destroy you.”

  • Lisa
    2019-01-02 01:40

    Collateral was about a woman in a relationship with a soldier. It is told in Ellen Hopkins signature verse style. It was the first adult book I've read by her and I had mixed feelings.On one hand, I can't exactly fault her writing style. It is effective and I love how you are exposed to all the feelings of the main character. On the other hand, I found myself slightly annoyed by the verse style at times. I just felt like there wasn't enough actual style to it. I don't mind when poems don't rhyme but when you write a whole book in poem format, I kind of expect it to feel like poetry. It didn't really feel like proper poetry to me. I didn't think it was bad. I just thought it was lacking that little something extra. I think it might be that I've read a number of this author's books and I'm so used to the style that it's beginning to seem gimmicky. However, if you haven't read anything by this author, you may adore her writing style. I will say that it was a very interesting book. The relationship between Ashley and Cole was like fire and ice. You can see how volatile they are together and all you can do is keep reading.I don't think this would be a good choice for women who are in a relationship with a soldier. The author seems to be showing the worst possible side to this kind of relationship. Personally, I enjoyed it for this reason because I find it hard to understand why anyone would want to put themselves through this kind of pain. It was a pretty quick read for such a thick book because of the writing style. It was good but I think I prefer her Y.A titles. If you love Ellen Hopkins or verse style novels, you'll probably love this. (Thanks to Edelweiss for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest opinion.)

  • Heidi M
    2019-01-18 10:01

    Couldn't get into this book. The subject content was good but the free verse was very distracting for me. Has to stop reading it.

  • Renae Blanton
    2019-01-17 02:03

    this book was written like a poem and to confusing to read. I didn't like it.

  • Kathryn
    2018-12-26 09:57

    We always think we know what it is like to be a spouse or loved one of a military member serving overseas during wartime. We always think we know what the anxiety is like, the depression, worry, never knowing if your loved one is coming home or not, and all of the regular worries of every day life. I think unless we've been there, we've been in those shoes, we could never really know what it is like. However....Reading Collateral was like being that person who has the loved one overseas in after 9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan. Ellen Hopkins made me feel at times I was Ashley, the main narrator, dealing with her Marines boyfriend being deployed four times over a five year period. Since Ellen Hopkins writes in poetry format, I think this made the story, the emotion, so real and even more heartbreaking. Ashley pours her feelings out on paper, and occasionally Cole, Ashley's boyfriend, does the same. Through this method, we really learn what Ashley is feeling, thinking, and we just learn about her and what she is like. Ashley has a good head on her shoulders, for the most part. She's in college, living for the most part on her own, and managing her life well. I feel like if Cole had not entered her life, (he entered her life at a bad time, to be honest), I definitely don't think this story would have played out the way it did. In her early 20s, Ashley is I think in some ways not responsible for some of the things which happened to her. But on the other hand, she is definitely responsible because she should have used better judgment. I say she is somewhat not responsible because Ashley is still pretty young, and I think definitely in the age where you want love so much, you are blinded by it. For going through the things she does in this novel, I think Ashley handles her problems, depression, Cole's deployments very well, and maturely. When I read about her family, mainly her parents, I could see why she was so independent and handled her problems mainly on her own. They drove me crazy for the most part. For me, if I had parents like her's, I could almost see the point of having no parents at all. Her mom does redeem herself for me a bit at times, but she is a far cry from mother of the year. And if I thought her mother bothered me, her dad really made me mad. I don't think parents realize the affect their actions can have on their children, their moral character, and their overall view of what a marriage, relationship, and parenting is supposed be about. Something which really bothered me, besides the obvious, was the fact, (view spoiler)[Cole's poems never mentioned Ashley's name. In fact, they mentioned a woman once, maybe twice. They were almost always about war, destruction, death, and the battlefield. When they did mention a love interest, I did think it was first. Then, as the novel progressed, I couldn't help but think they could have been about Lara. She was something else which bothered me. To be completely honest, I trusted Cole in the VERY beginning, when he and Ashley first meet. But after his first deployment, then the next, then the emails, then Lara is introduced into the picture.......I trusted him less and less, until I didn't trust him at all. I really questioned his feelings for Ashley, and if she was just a void he was filling as a solider. I began to think she was just a "thing" waiting for him at home, someone to dream about at night in the barracks to take his mind off the bullets and guns, someone to send him packages of cigarettes, and to have that feeling someone other than family cared about him back home. I think in some sick way, he liked having this hold on Ashley, knowing he could control her with his touch, a few words, and promises. And another thing which bothered me was the fact, when you really look at their relationship, it was mainly about sex. Every time they were together, sex was pretty much all they did together. They didn't talk about their future together, or anything truly romantic. Sex is not romance. Love is. There is a MAJOR difference. (hide spoiler)]Cole's mother also REALLY bothered me. (view spoiler)[ I think her intentions were to break them up and get Lara back into the picture. Why so much secrecy? Why was she so close to Lara, but could never make an attempt to be close to Ashley? I really felt like she thought Cole and Ashley would break up, and Ashley was just Cole's "flavor of the week." I'm not sure what all was going on in that area, but I am glad the end result ended with Ashley and Cole not marrying, IF only for this point. I think Cole's mom and ex-girlfriend Lara would have been a big problem in their marriage. Like they needed anymore problems. (hide spoiler)]The end result did shock me. I wasn't expecting the ending we got. (view spoiler)[I thought maybe Cole would die in war, not end up breaking Ashley's jaw. Or, I thought maybe she would confront him and that would be the end of it. I actually really wanted Ashley to end up with Jonah, and I think maybe wounds were healed and eventually that relationship sprouted. I can only hope so. I think Ashley definitely deserved to be with Jonah, who obviously cared about and respected her. (hide spoiler)]Ellen Hopkins has such a talent, and in this adult novel of her's, she really brings a lot of light to the strained and difficult relationships military members and their loved ones can face. I think this is definitely a novel to read if you want to understand this side of the story, instead of the side of the battlefield. A solid four star, maybe even a 4.5 star read.

  • Jon
    2018-12-30 05:49

    Seen at Scott Reads It! Prior to reading Collateral, I had only read one Ellen Hopkins book. I'm not a fan of realistic fiction but I'd rather be in some fantastic paranormal or sci-fi world. Reality is way too harsh and I'd rather read something unrealistic. Collateral is the story of Ashley who falls in love with a soldier named Cole. Collateral may not be for everyone as there are a few sex scenes, scenes in which the characters curse, and tons of heartbreaking moments. Collateral is an poignant novel that will break your heart a thousand times. Ashley's love story isn't sugarcoated at all and it is extremely realistic. Her story perfectly captures the hardships that military wives have to deal with on a daily basis. I'm not a military wife; I'm about as far as you can get from one (I'm just a teenage guy!) but I have a feeling that this is a pretty accurate book.Ellen Hopkins's prose is truly something spectacular and it perfectly embodies all the emotion and tension within Ashley. Hopkins's writing is extremely fluid and easy to read yet it is so thought-provoking. Never in my life would I have thought that I would enjoy a book about military wives yet Hopkins made me form connections with her characters. The only character that I felt that was pretty flat was Cole, I didn't really get a sense of who he was enough. The reader never truly gets a chance to understand how he feels except for a few short emails.Collateral is an extremely well-done novel but I definitely it could have been edited better. At 512 pages, Collateral is a pretty daunting book that could have been shortened. There were some moments in Collateral where I felt like the same thing kept on recurring, I felt like sometimes the plot was a bit stagnant. The pacing in Collateral felt a bit sluggish to me; I'm not sure if it was just me or if it's just really slow-paced. I'm not used to reading such depressing books and I had to put this book aside multiple times.After reading Collateral, I'm definitely interested in reading more of Ellen Hopkins's books. Collateral is a gut-wrenching book that is filled with an emotional punch. This is not a book you will be able to easily forget due to the immense, poignant emotion that Hopkins is famous for. Thank you to Atria Books for an ARC of Collateral in exchange for a honest review.

  • Lisa
    2019-01-22 04:08

    I commend military wives. Of those in my family or ones I know, I don't think I tell them this enough. I've always admired their strength, but seeing their lives up-close it has also taught me that you don't always choose who you love. I've told myself time and time again that I could never be a military wife, but I'm sure some of those wives said the same least that is what Ashley always thought until she met Cole. Ashley and Cole are very dynamic characters. In Collateral you follow bits and pieces of their lives over five years and four deployments. As mush as anyone grows and changes in five years, Ashley and Cole are not the same people; time has changed them, war has changed them. At times I loved both of these characters and at times I couldn't stand either of them. First I really liked Cole. He was sweet, sensitive and swept Ashley off her feet. Who would not fall for a rugged marine who writes poetry...and good poetry at that? But alas as I mentioned before, he changes. This was quite an unexpected surprise for me...and not a good one. The story is told switching between present day and flash backs of Ashley and Cole's relationship. Since I listened to the audio this tripped me up a couple of times, but I soon got used it and went with the flow. It was interesting to see where their relationship started started and where they are now, but not necessarily in that order. This style of switching between present and past helped explain more about their relationship than I think I would have gotten if it was told chronologically. As for the audio part of this book, Rebekkah Ross is becoming one of my favorite narrators. She brought the characters to life for me and gave me sympathy for them at times when I didn't think I had any left. The main plot of Collateral is examining Ashley and Cole's relationship; it's success and struggles. I think that by listening to the audio I was kept more engaged than I would have been by reading the book. Hearing Ashley's story made it more personal by connecting a voice to the words and therefore made me more invested. Collateral is a very captivating read, but one that deals with some serious issues. At times it was very difficult to read, but definitely worth it.

  • Soobee72
    2019-01-21 04:55

    Hopkins apparently always writes in free verse. Collateral is about the relationship between Ashley, a grad student who falls in love with Cole, an active duty Marine serving in Afghanistan.For me, this book fails on all levels. It's not a terribly good book of poetry (although it's not awful either), and it's not a terribly good novel. It's not that poetry cannot tell a story, and even here the poetry does tell a lot.The problem for me is that it all felt very shallow to me, largely because the writing read as very lazy to me. Hopkins tries to write from both Ashley and Cole's viewpoint, but Cole's voice never really emerged for me. Other than the layout of his poems, they read like poems Ashley wrote as an exercise to see through his eyes. The politics are heavy handed, and that's okay, but nothing is really explored and it all feels like a glossy magazine article and not even one in Vanity Fair with its one or two articles to try and prove that it's more New Yorker than Hollywood Reporter. The liberal and conservative views are not explored so much as thrown out there and are nearly cartoonish in their portrayal.Overall, it's not terrible. It's just not very good.

  • Sherry
    2018-12-28 09:04

    This was the first Ellen Hopkins book I've read despite constantly ordering and purchasing her YA novels for my students and library. I've always been reluctant to try her YA novels because I perceive them as depressing and sad.I decided to read Collateral because it was a love story. I'm a sucker for a love story and appreciate a good romance to lose myself in every once and a while.The verse novel style made for a quick read but didn't lessen my involvement with the characters and story. My heart ached for Ashley as she fell for her marine and devoted herself to him during his 4 tours of duty in Afghanistan. I hoped for a happy ending but knew it probably was not going to happen. The emotions in this book are raw and intense. The characters are fairly well developed. The differences in writing styles for Ashley's thoughts and Cole's poetry was apparent. I also appreciated the changes in fonts for writers and even to depict different emotions and time periods.I would recommend this book to adults who say they don't read or don't have time to read. The strong male & female main characters and military subject matter make it seem appealing to both men & women, but I doubt many guys will give it a try. I can now understand why my students enjoy books by Ellen Hopkins.

  • Beverly J.
    2019-01-19 04:01

    Absolutely fantastic. I think this woman is one of the best writers ever. The ending was abrupt but I am not completely upset with that. It did seem a bit less prose that her earlier works too.

  • Sara Price.
    2019-01-04 07:59

    This was a little bit different than I was expecting, but overall it was enjoyable. It had its flaws but the main characters were interesting to read from and of course the writing style is amazing!

  • Samantha Howard
    2018-12-27 08:43

    2.5? Really? Really? REALLY?? I literally rolled my eyes at the end of this book. The entire book was about their relationship, and to have it end in a matter of what 3 or 4 pages? Just ridiculous! I wanted more! And why didn't he try to go after her?? Just seemed a little out of character for him. Idk... not my favorite from Ellen Hopkins

  • Abby Wigglesworth
    2018-12-30 02:01

    Personal Response: In my opinion I enjoyed anything written by Ellen Hopkins, so when someone recommend this book to me I was eager to read it. In addition to that I thought this book described what it would be like to be in love with a Marine. The book shows the struggles of dealing with death,the distance,and the overwhelming fear that something could happen to them while they are away in a war zone. I enjoyed how Ellen Hopkins went into other families that lived on the military base with Darian, with this in mind it gives you insight to what the wives do to keep themselves busy while their husbands are away. It also shows me the uglier side of things, for instance the wife cheating, or the husband beating the wife once he arrived back at the base.Plot:Ashley's love story was a big hit of reality of dating someone who was in the military, Ellen Hopkins does not sugar coat the story at all. For Ashley she fell in love with Cole who was enrolled in the Marines before they met each other. They then start dating for a little over five years, with only getting short emails, or short phone calls from him every couple of months, it was left to Ashley to keep herself occupied. She does this by being enrolled into college at the local university, volunteering at the veterans hospital. Ashley was going to college for social work but her true passion was to teach young children. Over the past five years of course she has aged, she was told that she has aged ten years from the stress of Cole being in the Marines. Cole was around the same age as Ashley. He was portrayed in the story as a kind, gentle country guy. While the story progresses on I'm able to see how the military had affected him. He has changed into a violent man. With a couple times where Cole has grabbed Ashley shaken her, yelled at her and threatened to hurt her. I am able to tell that he does not mean to hurt her intentionally but I wonder maybe that is Cole's true nature.Impacts of the setting: The impacts of the setting doesn't take me to a war zone but it did describe what Ashley thinks it was like, also the setting was in present day San Diego, California. I'm able to tell that it is present day because the characters had phones, email and computers. Although it does not take me to a war zone it did involve a character going to a war zone and having to deal with the consequences. With Ashley being in San Diego and surrounded by friends and her family she was able to lead a pretty normal life. With Cole being in Afghanistan he was under a lot of pressure to protect not only himself, but the people living there and his fellow troops. With each person leading a very different life this puts a strain on their relationship. In addition the time was around President Obama's time in office because some of the characters bring up his actions. Thematic connection: I feel the thematic connection wasn't really apparent throughout the book until I got to the end. In the end were Cole ends up hitting Ashley and breaking her jaw, then not wanting to press charges straight away. I like to think the thematic connection is no matter how much you love someone you have to let go of them before they hurt you physically, mentally or emotionally. Also staying with someone could hurt a person more than actually helping someone to be a better person.Recommendation: I would recommend this book to high school girls around the ages of 15 and up, because there is a lot more romance in the book and not a lot of gore. I feel like this is appropriate to teach girls that if they are in a toxic relationship, that it shows what could happen. Also if someone wants to try to be in a relationship with someone over seas that it isn't going to be easy and it will cause a lot of stress on you.

  • Destiny
    2018-12-28 08:57

    I enjoyed this book pretty good. When I had free time, I wanted to pick this book up and continuing reading. This story gives some insight into how it could be when in a relationship with a Marine. There were some ups and downs and the downs were normally really bad. As I read through this, I felt real emotion. For example, when one soldier was in an accident and in critical condition in the hospital, I felt really sad for him and his family. I also felt very happy when Ashley, the main character in this book, fell in love with her Marine, Cole. As Ellen Hopkins writes this book, it flashes back and forth between present and past. This kept me on the edge of my seat, because it would switch over as soon as something dramatic happened. The ending left me disappointed, though. It was very abrupt and I felt there wasn't enough drama. Ashley's relationship with Cole ended suddenly when he had too much to drink and punched her. Granted that is drama, but with how this story was going and the way Ellen Hopkins writes, I expected more.Ashley is the main character. She is in her early twenties and is in college for social work. Her real passion has always been to teach younger kids, though. She never thought she would ever end up with someone in the military, but when she met Cole, they hit things off right away. She ages five years, but she feels like it has been ten. She matures very fast while carrying the stress of Cole being in the Marines. Cole is around the same age as Ashley is and chose to become a Marine. He starts out as a character who is very gentle and kind, though he is a big and strong guy. As the book carries on, I can see that he beings to suffer from PTSD. He gets a crazy look in his eyes when he is drunk or angry. His character seems to be mad a lot more often and he ends up being abusive towards the end.The setting of this book impacts it very much. The book does not really go to the place of war, but it involves a character that goes to war. The setting that he is in changes his mind set on how he handles situations. It has made him more violent and aggressive to many subjects. Back at home, away from war, the setting is present day. This book goes on for the length of five years. The years are sometime during President Obama's term, because his actions are brought up. Also, they talk about Osama Bin Laden being shot the next couple of days it actually takes place. The book's place setting is in California near the coast. Ashley is able to live a normal life in this setting, however in Cole's setting, he is put under a great amount of stress. His stressful setting produces problems for his relationship with Ashley.I think this book would be good for girls in high school or older. I picture girls reading Ellen Hopkins books more than boys. This book includes some sexuality so I would recommend this to people who are mature enough to handle those situations. This is a love story that has the involvement of war. Someone who has a relationship with somebody in war would be able to possibly relate to events that take place through this story.

  • Kyle
    2019-01-05 10:00

    This and others reviews can also be found atLiving Is Reading Ellen Hopkins is one of my favorite writers . . . ever. I love her prose, characters, pacing, romance, and how she’s not afraid to write about taboo issues like prostitution, sexual abuse, etc. Ever since New Year’s Day of 2011, when I took a chance and downloaded Crank despite the fact that I was uncertain about the verse format, I fell in love and have since then read every book, YA or adult, that she’s published. However, I have a sad confession to make: I feel, especially since the books published after Tricks, that she’s losing her edge. Basically:Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks = AmazingPerfect = Amazing, but not quite as amazing as her other worksFallout, Triangles, Tilt, Collateral = Not as good by any meansMoving on, let’s talk about Collateral. I thought that this book would be really easy to connect to, since my grandfather served in the Navy during the Pacific theater of WWII, and my cousin fought in Iraq until he was killed on July 12th, 2006. I really wasn’t very close with my cousin, since I only met him once in before he died, but I figured that perhaps I could relate to the feelings that a lot of these characters have.I encountered a lot of problems along the way, unfortunately.First off, our main character, Ashley Patterson, is very drab and boring. She lacks a distinct personality and that charisma I need in characters so that I can become invested in them. Because I couldn’t become invested in her and her troubles, I didn’t really connect to her feelings of longing because her Marine boyfriend Cole wasn’t there. Also, Cole himself is an asshole. Sure, he was pretty nice when he was first introduced, but if anybody believes that rape is okay in some cases, they can’t be all that nice. Thank God that Ashley told Cole off after he said that, otherwise I would’ve had to set this down. The romance between them wasn’t any good either. Ashley rarely displayed a backbone in my opinion, and Cole was just such an asshole that I was waiting for them to have some kind of dramatic breakup, or for Ashley to just go find somebody else. There wasn’t much of a plot, since it basically revolved around Ashley and Cole’s relationship, and the trials that it had gone through since they met and the trials that it was going through during the present time. This isn’t to say that the book is all bad. I do still like Ellen’s prose, even if it does have the occasional slip-up into strange, and this was definitely impossible to put down. I read about 380 pages in the car-ride to and from Staten Island on Christmas Eve. For the most part I was also reasonably entertained and my interest was held. Disappointed is the best word to use, I guess.

  • Janie Johnson
    2018-12-29 03:05

    Another great book by Ellen Hopkins, wrote with such realism and depth. The imagery was fantastic as well. So much so that I feel myself immersed into the story and becoming the characters. Again so much emotion to feel while reading this.We follow Ashley and Darian who go out one day and they meet Cole and Spencer, who are marines. They both fall in love with their marines, but they both deal with their issues so differently. Like light and day, and I liked seeing the 2 different sides to the story. The story however focuses more On Ashley and Cole, rather than Darian and Spencer.After seeing Cole deployed 4 times, Ashley's loves grows and becomes so overwhelming that her perception seems to get a little shaded as in maybe overlooking things she would not normally overlook and pin them as normal. As I witnessed those things that she went through I still gained such respect for the fact that she yet stays loyal to Cole. So many things she had to take and suffer through.I could literally see both of them change as the story went on. They changed into people that they would not normally be. Cole probably had the worse personality change of the two. It was like he became a completely different person. You can only imagine those things they have to deal with. It also seemed more like Ashley loved Cole with all of her being, where Cole, I think loved her, but liked the idea more of her being there to sate his needs. It seemed that Ashley thought of Cole all the time, but Cole did not, imo. I am surprised that Ashley trusted him as much as she did. Especially after (view spoiler)[Cole also thought it was ok to keep things from Ashley and also plan for their future without involving her in it. She would find them out after the fact. And from someone other than Cole. And also it seemed his mother and his ex girlfriend took precedence over Ashely. Those would have been warning signs to me that maybe his love did not run quite as deep. (hide spoiler)]Hopkins also touches on the lack of support for our troops. This was something else that Ashley had to deal as her parents were some of those people. It was hard not to have her parents support her and her choice to love Cole and stick by him. As the story progresses you watch Ashley trying to deal with her life, dealing with her parents concern, dealing with Darian and her life as well, and most of all dealing with Cole and his ever changing personality.Such a profound tale and one that, for me ended in a kind of sadness that I feel deep in my core. I felt so much for Ashley, and the story was so thought provoking and worth reading. I would recommend this to anyone, even if you are put off by the verse writing style, because I gotta say that in every verse there is a story and you won't be sorry reading it.

  • Danie
    2018-12-29 02:53

    Ellen Hopkins hosted a contest a while back for photos of military families. I sent one in of Mike and I, just for the heck of it. I didn't think I'd be one of the winners, but when she contacted me via email, I was so excited. I love Ellen Hopkins. I've read every one of her books, with the exception of Triangles. I'm a huge fan of her writing style. Collateral is the story of Ashley, a 20-something year old woman who meets a Marine named Cole and falls in love with him. She is a bit apprehensive at first, but eventually falls head over heels in love with him. She sticks by his side through everything, including multiple deployments. Eventually though, she starts to re-evaluate her relationship with Cole when she realizes just how hard being a military wife/girlfriend can be. Have you seen those memes that say "NAILED IT!" on them? There needs to be one of those for Collateral. It was so bizarre reading the words that I've been saying since Mike joined the military. I remember when he first left, and not hearing from him for weeks at a time. It was scary, it was upsetting, and it was so hard to explain the rollercoaster of emotions to people who hadn't personally dealt with it. I always said that unless you've lived the military lifestyle, you can't even begin to understand how hard it is. Ellen Hopkins proved me wrong with Collateral. Ashley and Cole's story is filled with ups and downs, just like any real relationship. On top of the normal struggles of being young and in love, they're dealing with long-distance. On top of that, they're dealing with the military. The characters in Collateral were all supremely realistic. I know women like Ashley's friends, who assume that because they're husband/boyfriend is gone, they can flirt with other men. I was furious at the way Derian treated Spencer, but I know it happens. And Cole. Cole, Cole, Cole. My heart broke along with Ashley's by the end of the book. What an ass. It was so great to read a book that recognized the struggle that those left behind by military members face. I can't compare what I've gone through to those overseas, and I'm not going to try. But I loved that for once there was a character in Ashley that I could identify with. Someone who I could say "YES! I know exactly how that feels!"Ellen Hopkins created an amazing novel with Collateral. I think this has been one of my favorite books written by her to date. More reviews can be found on my blog, Booktacular

  • Lydia Presley
    2019-01-16 07:06

    Collateral is the first book I've read by Ellen Hopkins and I approached it with hopeful optimism - mostly because I had heard that it was written in free verse style and, after having immersed myself in poetry this year, I thought it would be fun to try something like this.At first the story really worked for me. It was the same story told a hundred times over - girl meets boy, boy is charming/cute/wonderful/strong/respectful/perfect, boy is in the military and is taken away from girl, etc... All of this told through free-verse that was simple and easy to read. The story in its most condensed form. Then things got a little weird for me. You see, the boy in this case is a poet and the love interest takes his poetry to her professor and has her professor read it, and the professor proclaims about the talent of the boy (essentially indicating that he is talented and wasted in the military). All of those things are fine on their own except for one: the complimenting of the poetry. This is where things really started to rub me the wrong way. If you are an author who writes in free-style poetry a story and then, in a round-about way, compliments your own poetry, it just makes me go "ick" a little bit. Because, honestly, the book would have been just fine had Cole not been a poet - sure there would have been tweaks needed here or there, but writing poetry and then writing in another poem how wonderful your previous poem was... yeah, it just didn't work for me.And, sadly, that spoiled the rest of the book. It's funny how little things like that can color the way a reader interacts with a story but, as time has proven in my case, one of my biggest pet peeves is the patting of oneself on the pack through fictional characters.p.s. The rhyming poems really didn't work for me. Please stick to the free-verse, Ms. Hopkins.

  • Heather (Fic Talk)
    2019-01-17 08:03

    Ashley is a graduate student. One night she meets Cole, a marine. He’s passionate, caring and a hopeless romantic who writes poetry. Their relationship goes on for five years, lasting through Cole’s four deployments.Cole wants to marry Ashley, only she’s never seen herself as a military wife. When Ashley meets a professor at college who shares similar interests with her, she begins to see what life may be like without worrying over war and deployments.This books is written in Hopkins’ usual verse style. This is my first book by her, so I didn’t know what to expect. I really enjoyed it though. She has the ability to fit a lot of details in so few words.I think this book would be enjoyed by those involved in some way with military life. Since I am not, honestly, some of the things written about were a little over my head. That’s not saying they weren’t an important part of the story though, because this book is mainly about the relationship between Cole and Ashley and the emotions she goes through.I started off loving Cole – he was sweet and loving and kind. But what this book proves to me is that war and seeing the things that they see over there, changes people. Sometimes for the worst, sometimes not.I do have to say that I loved seeing how Cole and Ashley’s relationship evolved. From when they met, being sweet and loving, to the present time, when they’ve grown up and away from each other.This was one of those books that I loved, absolutely loved…until the end. I get in my mind how I want a book to end (whether it sounds plausible or not) and if it doesn’t end that way, I end up a little jaded.Overall, Collateral was good and I will definitely look into more of Hopkins’ writing since I enjoyed her style so much, but I think that this book would be more welcome to a reader looking for a certain storyline.

  • Sterlingcindysu
    2019-01-13 07:46

    I gave Hopkins a bonus star for writing this novel in poetry format. Just as in Triangles she was able to capture multiple characters' voices in few words. Whenever I start thinking, "boy, that's a dumb thing for her to do," you know the character has become real--and I really think that Ashley did quite a few dumb things and still needed to grow up even at the end of the book. She blamed her mother for being too complacent, but she was much, much worse. She depended on others to choose her career path, pay her way and make all decisions. The main story is about Ashley dating a solider, but since Cole is off-stage for so much of the book it really is about Ashley. The title refers to the collateral damage of war. I looked up the meaning. Collateral also refers to anatomy, such as collateral circulation, a secondary or supporting role. That also applies to Ashley when she was dating Cole--her life was put on a secondary role while she waited for Cole and jumped when he said. (She would really ask for money for tickets to fly to Hawaii whenever he was on leave? And get it?) Collateral also can be security given so a person pays back a loan. In one chapter Cole says without Ashley there'd be no reason for him to come home. (Although home to him always means Wyoming, not California). So back to the plot--I think the ending was way too abrupt but by the time you've gotten to 450 pages it is time to wrap things up. I'm glad that editor put different fonts to show different people and times. I liked how Cole's poems had a corresponding poem on the side. I wonder how a 20-25 yo male solider would review this book.

  • The Sweet Bookshelf
    2018-12-24 03:46

    This isn't something I normally read but I wanted to try something new and see what I thought. This is what I imagine life of a military spouse is actually like. It is heart breaking. I don't think I could do it. Not ever. Not even in the name of love.The narrator felt real. I felt like Ashley was actually talking to me and telling me her story. And I hated it. I wanted so much for things to work out. I wanted so much for things to not be so hard. I wanted her to move on and make something of herself. I wanted Cole to stop being so selfish. I wanted to understand why anyone serves in the military. I felt grateful for their service to protect me. But, I don't think they understand what they are leaving at home. I also don't think we at home understand what our soldiers are going through in the field. It is just a catch 22. A big tangled web of a mess. I didn't know which person should have my allegiance.I didn't see much character development. I saw Ashley just being selfish but maybe that is what happens when you have to share your solider with everyone. Mostly the government. I wanted to see Ashley and Cole actually "do" something with their life. I felt like they were always just waiting to be together. They measured their life in deployments. The book was far too political for me.I'll say that this book is terribly cliche. In the sense of a soldier coming back with PTSD and turning abusive and violent. I wanted to see something different. The ending was abrupt and I honestly expected something much more. It was just...BAM...over. Too many unanswered questions.This wasn't really my thing, but I did enjoy the whole audiobook. I listened intently and it brought a lot of feelings up for me.

  • Kelly Hager
    2019-01-22 07:08

    As with all of Ellen Hopkins' books, Collateral is a novel in verse. It's about Ashley, a young student at San Diego University. Her life is going along about like she expected until she meets Cole, who's in the Marines. They immediately hit it off (and have seriously intense sex) and manage to stay together through four deployments. Now Cole wants to get married and Ashley loves him but she also has met this other guy, someone with a similar background and could give her a life outside of the military-centered one she's currently living.And as with all of Hopkins' books, this one is amazing. It's intense and heartbreaking and amazing. I have friends who are with people in the military (some retired, some still on active duty) and I always wonder exactly how they do it. How they handle being constantly left behind and having to run an entire household by themselves and then surrender the reins and not be the only person in charge once the soldier returns home. I'm pretty sure that it's not something I could do. But, as Ashley points out, you don't really get a say in who you fall in love with.One of my favorite themes in literature is the idea of the road not taken. In this case, it comes down to the choice between life with Cole and life with Jonah. And, of course, there's also the idea of how war can change you---because how can it NOT?So yes, another great book from Ellen Hopkins. I'm incredibly sad that there won't be another one until summer, but that one is a sequel to Burned so it'll be worth the wait.

  • Cait
    2019-01-22 05:53

    It's good, but not Hopkins' best. I am in a military relationship, and though I relate to about 80% of the book and the relationship they have, a lot of it is really misleading and misses the mark for accuracy in a military relationship. Hopkins paints Cole as this ignorant, bigoted and terribly abusive person, who basically and literally screws Ashley into staying with him. Their entire relationship is based on sex, and though it's a large part of the military, because it's another way of giving your soldier a piece of yourself, it is not everything. Though she is really unfaithful to Spencer throughout, I really think Darian is one of my favorite characters in this book. She represents Ashley's voice of reason, and basically talks her out of making Darian's "mistake." When I get married, I don't know if it will be to my soldier or not...because who knows what the future holds. But I would like to think that I have someone there to weigh the pros and cons with, a friend like Darian. MilSo relationships are a lot of give and take, and she definitely hits that right. And war changes them. But she doesn't really paint a clear picture of war, she just glosses over it, which doesn't give us a clear understanding of who Cole is and just demonstrates him as a villain and makes it ever clear that Hopkins doesn't really know all that much about the topic she's writing on.

  • Denise
    2019-01-11 08:47

    3.0 out of 5 stars - free verse leaves too many important details from the story for my need as a reader.This novel, about a college girl who falls in love with a Marine posted to active duty, seemed incomplete without the many details that develop a narrative into a full story that will ring true. As is typical of an EH book, the whole tone is actually quite depressing and the reader can feel another bad ending coming a mile away. A pet peeve of mine is that she alternates points of view and goes back and forth in time. Interspersed between those kinks in the flow are poems written by Ashley and Cole. I didn't really develop any great feeling for the characters and the events that happen to some in the book seemed overdone to prove the point that the deployment of a soldier causes "collateral" damage on everyone connected to him or her. Although I understand that was the theme and point of the story, the negative was relentless. This is definitely NOT a book I would recommend to any man or woman whose loved one was going off to war or joining the military.The ending seemed to come out of nowhere and I was just left disappointed in how the author handled a very important topic. I've read all the previous YA the author has written, and I know teens gobble it up, but this foray into general adult fiction seemed incomplete and was not fulfilling for me. I had way too many questions at the end.