Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury
Genre: YA contemporary
$16.99 (US hardback)
What it's about:
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.
This book was beautiful. Going into it, I knew that it was about a kid coming back from the war and that his family life was pretty crappy, and that he falls for a girl named Harper. I don't know why, but I was sort of expecting the whole war and family life parts to be shoved in the background and that it would focus on Travis and Harper. I was so so so so wrong and this book caught me by surprise and I'm so glad for that. I'm glad that it wasn't just another sappy teen romance.
I immediately liked Travis, though at times I wanted to punch him in the eye just like Harper did because Travis was being so stupid! Ugh, I know he was hurting but really, Paige? Travis acting like a normal, heart broken, and beaten down by life boy was so sad, but so real. He acted like a real boy, he sounded like a real boy, in other words, he was completely believable. It is obvious that this whole book was on a subject that was very near and dear to Trish Doller. She was able to capture the horror I can only imagine the war in Afghanistan is like, along with the awkwardness of coming back from that situation. Doller was also able to get me to love and care for, and mourn, a character you never actually meet. I cried right along with Travis. I've read books before that you end up meeting a character after they die and it never really worked for me before. Yeah sure, I was always a little sad reading it, but I never felt that persons loss. That wasn't the case for me in SLN. I felt it, I cried.
I would also like to say that the cover and the description of this book threw me off. Like I said, it made me think it was a love story, and while that is partly true, I would never label this a love story. At least not in the normal way. Travis and Harper do have their love story in it, and while it is adorable, it is real. So very real. And yet it is not all the story is about.
The thing about this book is that I started it at around 9pm tonight. It is currently a little after 3am and I've finished it, and instead of going to bed like I know I should, I had to hop on my laptop and write this review. I wanted to write a review for this book after I finished reading it because I wanted all my emotions from the book to just spill out onto the keyboard. I didn't want to think about what I was saying, I just wanted how this book made me feel to show in the review. Hopefully that happened, not quite sure. For being such a short little book, I thought it was extremely moving. I adored it.
My rating: 10/10