Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Release: June 19, 2012
When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.
Something Like Normal is a very honest and poignant look into how war affects a person--both physically and emotionally.
Travis has just returned from Afganistan to find his world turned on its axis. Haunted by the death of his friend, he finds everything unfulfilling as he battles the onslaught of flashbacks and nightmares. It isn't until Harper comes back into his life that things actually get back to "something like normal."
YA books are rarely written from the male perspective. So, I'll talk about Travis. Travis doesn't seem himself as a hero after the war. In fact, the war has made him feel less of a hero because he survived and his friend didn't. It was easy to sympathize with him. I also found Harper a refreshing character, who compliments Travis in many ways. However, I felt she was a little quick to forgive Travis. You'll have to read to find out the "whats" and "whys" of what Travis did.
And the romance between Travis and Harper was...sweet, but I couldn't help comparing them to other couples who had more chemistry. The chemistry is present in Something Like Normal, it's just not intense or in your face. Maybe that's a good thing, because this isn't about the romance. It's about recovering from war, and the effects war has on every-day people like Travis. This whole story is exceptionally "normal", but something about it makes it stand out. My biggest complaint comes from the fact that it ended too soon. Doller took the "easy way" out to by using a letter to tie up the loose ends. I wanted to read about the things the letter describes. I wanted to see Travis slowly recover and come to terms with what he experienced. I wanted to see more of Travis and Harper.
So, if you are looking for a quick contemporary read, check this book out. After the hype on various blogs, I was (admittedly) a little disappointed, but there's still a lot to like about Something Like Normal. It's greatest assets is overall believability. The events described in this book are things that happen every day. It's not dramatic. It's simple and honest, and a book I can heartily recommend.
RATING: 4 SLICES