Marry Me, Marine
Excellent writing and storytelling conflict with my conceptual beliefs about marriage in Marry Me, Marine. Whether your enjoyment is impacted will depend on how you view a marriage “in name only.” Do you see the couple as married or is it just a piece of paper?
Driving to Wyoming in her grandmother’s aging 1980 pink Cadillac Seville – courtesy of Mary Kay – is the height of lunacy, but Angela Adams is desperate. She is determined to leave her bad choices behind, and provide a better life for her two-year-old son. She believes that enlisting in the military will give her that opportunity, but as a single mother that option is not available. She either has to give up custody or marry for convenience. With no marital prospects in sight, her Marine recruiter tells her, “I know a man,” which is how she ends on Hatch’s private property ducking for cover as she hears the ping of gunfire.
Former Navy SEAL Clayton Henry Miner, known as “Hatch”, is medically retired after losing an eye in combat. When he first meets Angela, he is dealing with the death of his mother and guilt over leaving her. Upon his return home, he discovered that she had declined deeper and deeper into her hoarding disorder, dying alone in the family home. So he is not in the mood for company, much less having to deal with this insane request. He has no intention of getting married. However, his buddy Bruce Calhoun, Angela’s Marine Corps recruiter, has his number because he remembered how Hatch had to circumvent his mother’s signature so he could join the service at seventeen. Hatch puts up a heroic fight, but between Angela’s determination and his own memories, he agrees and they are married the same day. For Angela, Hatch is just a name on a piece of paper since her grandmother Shirley will be taking care of her son Ryder. Six months later, that all changes with Shirley’s death and Angela’s deployment orders to Afghanistan – leaving her no choice but to name Hatch as guardian and leave her son with him.
Reading the book summary, I assumed this was going to be a about how a young boy softens and changes an ill-tempered curmudgeonly hero. You know, something complete with tons of cutesy scenes, but that is not the case. Yes, the hero is changed by taking care of Ryder, but the book’s emphasis is more on the sacrifices that our service men and women make and the impact on their families. Another strength of the book is in its role reversal, with the man staying home to take care of a child while the woman goes off to war.
The book is written simply, with a time span of almost seven years. Even with the heartbreak of leaving a child behind, there is very little melodrama, which makes it extremely effective. And the need for intimacy is explored but in a understated way. Hatch is thirty to Angela’s twenty and he believes that she needs to get out there and discover the world. He is attracted to her from the beginning but her lack of life experience and her age stops him from acting on that attraction. He tells her to date, and when she finds the right person then he will gladly give her a divorce.
Two things impacted my grade. While I know that it is unrealistic and naïve to expect two grown people to consider a sham marriage real, I really wanted them to. And the second has to do with the abrupt about-face of the heroine at the end.
Still, Ms. Brewer strikes a happy medium between fantasy and realism that is moving. And I liked the fact that she made me think genuinely about our men and women in the military long after I closed the book.