Monday, March 21, 2016


Elizabeth Marro is former journalist and the author of Casualties, the first novel to explore the homecoming of an Iraq-war veteran from the perspective of a mother and a civilian whose successful business career depends entirely on the defense industry. Marro wrote the novel in San Diego where she has lived since March 2002.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Casualties and reported the following:
From page 69:
A little over an hour later, Ruth sat back in her chair, stunned. “You’re telling me that our people filed their medical claims and the insurance company still hasn’t paid out? None of them?”

“These have been paid,” Sylvia said, pushing a page across the desk. “Partially. The company has denied payment for the rest of the claims. It’s standard operating procedure. Most will eventually be paid once reviews have been completed.”

Ruth looked from the names on the single page in front of her to the eleven-inch stack of files Sylvia had dumped on her desk. The “pending” files. Some of the claims had been “pending” for eleven months. Some longer. Ruth had opened the files before she stopped, rattled by the juxtaposition of ordinary job descriptions and extraordinary injuries: interpreter, double amputee; truck driver, quadriplegic; medical technician, brain trauma. She tried not to read the names but they were right there, on the first page, their stories crammed into small boxes below: Ahmed Hazazi, born in Detroit, fluent in Arabic, IED blast. Marissa Albertson, age twenty-seven, caught when a newly built clinic she was working in collapsed after a nearby explosion; the truck driver, Clayton Massey, spinal cord severed after his caravan was ambushed.

By the tenth file, she’d had to stop looking. They knew the risks, she told herself, just as she’d told Robbie. We told them there would be risks. Still, she grabbed the top folder and shook it at Sylvia.

“We’re paying out huge premiums. There’s no reason to sit on these.”

Sylvia’s shoulders, straining the seams of her black blazer, rose in a shrug. “As I said, standard procedure. Out of our hands.”
When I applied the page 69 test to Casualties, I found the passage in the book where my protagonist Ruth first confronts the human consequences of some of her firm’s actions, and her own. She’s had to leave a reunion with her son, Robbie, a Marine home only hours from his second deployment, to deal with the lawsuit triggered by failure to pay insurance premiums for the contractors hired by her firm to work in war zones.

It’s actually the moment when everything Ruth has worked for is about to unravel. This scene also contains information Ruth will use when she tries to take her first steps towards healing after she loses her job, and much more.
Visit Elizabeth Marro's website.

My Book, The Movie: Casualties.

--Marshal Zeringue