by Elizabeth Marro

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A heartbreaking and insightful debut novel about the wars we fight overseas, at home, and within our own hearts.
Some come back whole. Some come back broken. Some just never come back...
As an executive for one of the most successful military defense contractors in the country, Ruth Nolan should have been thrilled when her troubled son, Robbie, chose to join the marines. But she wasn’t. She was terrified.
So, when he returns home to San Diego after his second tour in Iraq, apparently unscathed, it feels like a chance to start over and make things right—until a scandal at work tears her away from their reunion. By the next morning, Robbie is gone. A note arrives for Ruth in the mail a few days later saying, “I’m sorry for everything. It’s not your fault. I love you.”
Without a backward glance, Ruth packs up Robbie’s ashes and drives east, heading away from her guilt and regret. But the closer she gets to the coast she was born on, the more evident it becomes that she won’t outrun her demons—eventually, she’ll have to face them and confront the painful truth about her past, her choices, the war, and her son.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780698409859
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/02/2016
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 960,526
File size: 735 KB

About the Author

Elizabeth Marro’s work has appeared in The San Diego ReaderThe Gloucester Daily Times,, and elsewhere. A long-time resident of the “North Country” region of New Hampshire, she holds degrees from the University of New Hampshire and Rutgers University, and now lives in San Diego. Casualties is her first novel.

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Casualties 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Ruth Nolan is an executive in a military defense contractor company. She’s successful and her biggest worry is her son, Robbie, who is unsure about his future. Ruth, although truly well-intentioned, is a super-nag! She doesn’t mean to but can’t seem to control her need to control Robbie’s every step. She tells him she loves him but Robbie can’t quite feel that through the incessant directions and plans she’s plotting for his life. So Robbie makes a major decision and carries it out without letting his mother know. He joins the Marines. Ruth’s reaction is double-edged. On the one hand she isn’t worried at all about him now that he’s made plans but the other truly caring side knows he will constantly be in grave danger! It’s the nightmare military Moms live through on a daily basis. Meanwhile trouble is brewing at work, big trouble! Without providing a spoiler, it turns out that promises made to military defenders and their families have been ignored to the point where it has become a public scandal. When Robbie finally returns from serving two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he’s a different person. He reaches out first to other relatives, without telling his mother. When he does appear, Ruth is caught up in a volatile situation at work and after several more attempts Robbie gives up and leaves with an apology note left behind. This is the story of Ruth’s awakening. The loss of her son traumatizes her into paying attention to war, the emotional and mental effect of military service on those who serve, the lack of financial, mental and emotional support of the government for those who fight in its name, her own company’s negligence that is far more devastating than just statistics and mistakes indicate. We are told, “War is hell.” However, this is a tale that must be told as numerous men and women return from war broken, forgotten and unsupported. The questions Ruth asks are so real that it’s painful to read them. To move beyond reading and to actively make a difference are Ruth’s incentives to the public. Quietly telling the truth and “being there” in whatever way one responds will make all the difference in the world. “Thank you for your service” just isn’t enough! Thanks to Elizabeth Marro for telling it like it is!
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
I am intrigued by war and what it does to the people who fight in it and the people who are left behind by those who fight. Casualties had both views. Robbie comes home from war troubled. He doesn’t come home to his mother instead he puts off seeing her. Ruth misses Robbie so much and just wants to see him. When he finally comes home circumstances at her work make it impossible for her to spend the time she wants with him. Then Robbie is gone and Ruth is devastated. Casualties is the story of how Ruth handles Robbie being gone. She runs. She runs far and without leaving work with her friends or co-workers. I felt for Ruth. I am not sure that she handled everything how she should have but how can she have known what would happen? When she meets Casey I was scared for her. He seemed creepy to me. I could not trust him, I could not believe that she would go with him, and I was really worried. As the story continued I could see how much they needed each other. They both were running from things, keeping secrets, and wrestling with the future. I picked up Casualties and thought it was a book about Robbie returning from war, yet it was more the story of his mother. It still showed what a difficult time a family can have dealing with a war that loved ones are fighting.
Holly More than 1 year ago
Casualties is the story of how war can effect somebody long after they come home. Ruth is a woman who came from nothing in New Hampshire to being a executive for a successful military defense contractor in the country who is dealing with a major scandal right when her son comes home. Her son Robbie, who was a wild child until joining the Marines but after two tours overseas, Robbie is dealing with demons within himself. When the scandal broke and with Robbie coming home, Ruth is thrown into dealing with the scandal unaware with what Robbie is going through until one night that will change everything. After dealing with the devastating news, Ruth leaves the company and hits the road until a accident puts her in the path of Casey, a amputee with a past of being in the Army. With both Ruth and Casey dealing with their own issues, a road trip that started as a bribe turns into something that will be healing and bring peace onto a horrible situation. I really liked this book, it did have it's moments when it was slower than molasses but the overall feeling of the book was pretty good. I will warn you though, there will be a point in the beginning of the book when it will make you just cry for what is happening and it sets the course for the rest of the book. It maybe a pretty heavy book to read but it does bring attention to what our soldiers go through when they come home from being overseas. Thank You to Elizabeth Marro for writing this heartfelt book that I hope will make everyone think about what is going on with our soldiers. I received this book from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
SiobhanMFallon More than 1 year ago
I loved so much of this book, the revelations about the dark side of the defense industry, the examination of what it is like for deployed soldiers/Marines returning home, the taste of petrol and exhaustion from too much travel and too little sleep, the way grief and small moments of joy can be tied together every day. But what I found most riveting in Casualties was the complexity of the main character's relationship with her troubled Marine son. Ruth is a working mother, quite a successful one at that, at least in her professional life. She encapsulates all of our current American hopes and fears about whether working woman can 'have it all.' As a working mom myself, this is something I struggle with, and Marro's deft exploration of maternal guilt, that strange mixture of pride and failure and stubborn resilience of 'doing it all,' was remarkably honest and on target. Marro manages to put so much into this heartbreaking and vast novel, it is an incredible snapshot of America at war both on foreign shores and within ourselves.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
I am not sure if this is the first Iraq war fiction I have read and I am sad by that because there is quite a catalog of them now and I have heard great things. This one started exactly where I hoped it would, but I lost if halfway and for that I am so sad - it went somewhere that I didn't expect and it didn't seem like the right path for Ruth, the main character. It isn't what I would have chosen for her, so for that I didn't love it, but I would still read another book by Elizabeth Marro. Have you ever wished something else for a main character? The thing that I adored was how she portrayed Robbie as he came home from Iraq and wasn't ready to go back to "normal." It felt completely honest and I appreciated that it was hard to hear how he felt about his friends and family.