Author: Ellen Hopkins
Narrator: Rebekkah Ross
Published by: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 8hrs, 38mins
Rating: 4 stars
Summary from Goodreads: 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.
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 thing...at 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.