Marro’s debut novel is a gritty tragedy that unrelentingly addresses painful issues of war, suicide, and the shady dealings of defense contractors.
Ruth Nolan, a powerful executive for a military contractor, finds herself entangled in RyCom’s legal debacle at the same time her son, Robbie, returns home from a stint in Iraq, mentally still at war. In turmoil of her own, Ruth makes a decision that she will regret forever. Robbie commits suicide, and she blames herself. When she abruptly flees, trying to outrun memories, regrets, and the people who remind her of them, she creates her own combat zone. Casey MacInerney, a vagrant and gambler also grieving his past, takes advantage of Ruth and forces her to take him with her on her cross-country journey. Ruth’s and Casey’s survival depends on trusting each other. Traveling together forces each to examine past actions and seek ways to forge a future worth living. Marro’s perception of the hurt and guilt her characters carry is deftly portrayed, although she provides readers no relief as they wrestle with their demons—not a minute to take a breath, nothing to chuckle about, nothing peaceful with which to buffer the storm of, well, casualties. But through her characters’ soul-searching and self-discovery, Marro provides a clear sense that, while the past can’t be undone, the future always offers a chance to make amends, and the human spirit can triumph over pain and find hope in family and forgiveness.
This is a tortured novel and yet a redemptive one. It isn’t a happily-ever-after story, but Marro casts a ray of hope that a good life can be lived after terrible tragedy.