Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (June 19th, 2012)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardback: 224 pages
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
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.
I'm pretty sure I read this book in less than a day. I couldn't put it down. Something Like Normal is heart-wrenching, dramatic, and inspiring.
Travis just got home from Afghanistan and not only has he changed, but everything around him seems to have changed too. His brother is now driving around in his car, with his girlfriend, and his flashbacks from war keep him on edge and exhausted.
It's sometimes difficult to find a book from a male POV that I (1) believe, and (2) connect with. I was able to do that with this book from page 1. I think I even made a comment to Trish on twitter that she really nailed the male POV and I didn't know how she did that! Travis had such a tough exterior and he obviously wasn't dealing with his emotions very well. He had everything bottled inside and the PTSD was only getting worse. Travis turned to some unhealthy behaviors as a way of coping, but soon found out that there was no escaping the memories of war.
Then there's Harper. Harper hates Travis..really, she does. They have a bit of a complicated past and she is not ready to forgive him any time soon. I loved that she stood her ground and didn't let anyone walk all over her. Even though many girls would have fallen for Travis automatically, she made it obvious that nothing with her would be easy.
Harper and Travis have a slowly building relationship, which was exactly what they both needed. It wouldn't have been a good idea for either of them to jump into anything quickly. Harper struggles to accept the parts of Travis that are flawed, but she is there for him and they work together to sort things out.
Travis gives us a lot of insight into the world of a Marine and it was so fun to read about him and his friends. I imagine that pretty much being exactly what it would be like. There is a lot of heartbreaking moments in this book too. Yes, I cried. Travis' struggle with his friend's death reminded me so much of the stories we see on tv and the men and women who suffer through the pains of loss and return from war not knowing where they belong anymore.
Trish Doller did an outstanding job capturing the emotions, friendships, and heartbreaks of a soldier returning from war. It would be impossible to read this book and not feel emotionally invested in the characters and their journey.