Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on June 19th 2012
Buy on Amazon
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 beautiful read: raw and unflinchingly honest. While I’m writing my review (roughly an hour after having finished the book) I don’t quite know what to do with myself. There’s this feeling inside me that took root when I started reading Something Like Normal and kept growing and growing while reading and I feel like it’s about to burst right now. This book is under my skin, and managed to secure a special place in my heart. THAT’s how beautiful this book was.
I love how this book isn’t about patriotism or politics. Simply put Something Like Normal is a story about people. Trish Dollar doesn’t turn her characters into saints, they’re flawed like any person is, and that is exactly the thing that makes this story so realistic. I care about the people in this book: about Travis and his friends, I laughed at their antics, and felt for them and what they were going through. Besides that, it’s incredibly realistic in the way the characters talk. She doesn’t water down their language use. We’re talking about 19 year old males here (besides the fact that they’re soldiers), and what guy our age doesn’t swear or say stupid shit? Like I said before, the characters aren’t saints, they’re flawed, and that includes them using the word “fuck” and them calling each other names.
Travis is struggling to hold himself together after losing his best friend in the war. He struggles with his grief and guilt, and it becomes so very clear that while he’s home, in some respects, he is very much still at war and Trish doller did a wonderful job at describing Travis’ emotional state. Throughout the story he develops his relationship with his mother, which made me want to cry at times. The way Trish Doller wrote about Travis’ mother and the desperation she felt over her son going to war was so palpable. I think she represented that in a great and (again) very realistic way.
Something Like Normal was quite the devastating, but most of all incredibly moving story with a flawed but appealing main character. I feel like everything I said in this review has been said by others already, but if this is your first time hearing about this book then please take my word and do yourself the favor of reading this book. I promise you that it won’t dissapoint.
This book was given to me by Rachel from Hello-Chelly! I will be forever grateful to her for sending me this book. Read my review if you wish to know why!
Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 24th 2013
Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.
Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true
This book completely floored me.
Painfully Realistic and oh so beautifully written.
Callie, our protagonist in this story, has been on the road with her mother for as long as she can remember. Constantly on the move, never having the chance to take root anywhere. In the early course of the story, Callie is taken from her mother and placed back in the care of her father, the same care that her mother took from her all these years ago by abducting her.
While Callie is trying to adjust to her new surroundings, she is battling the loss of life as it was before. Her new life offers so much possibilities but with everything so foreign to her, I can’t help but understand her feeling off loss and confusion.
Callie’s life has been everything that a girl never should have to go through, yet she never truly loses herself. She is such a strong protagonist and very easy to admire more and more as you get pulled deeper into the story. There wasn’t a single moment that this story felt unreal to me. Every moment of reading remained painfully -while other moments beautifully- realistic. Making friends doesn’t come naturally, since she never had the possibility to make them. Romantically, Callie has no way how a relationship works, the only side she knows is the sexual side. In her new life, she has to learn this step by step and her problems don’t just magically disappear. This ads to the fact that the character development in Where the Stars Still Shine is immense. There where just so much layers that I found myself peeling back again and again.
The romance between Callie and Alex builds slowly. They don’t magically fall in love, but they learn to trust each other as they go. Besides that, I found that Alex Kosta, appealed so much more to me than most guys in YA books. He had this maturity to him and his character was well-developed as well. He is one of the layers to this story. There was just so much more to him then meets the eye. He has his own reasons for being how he is and as the story progresses Callie and Alex find the trust to confide in each other.
Another thing that made this story just so beautiful is the way it ends. There is no fairy tale ending. It’s as realistic and brutally honest as the rest of the story. Most of the time I don’t really like open endings, because I feel as if at the ending there are so many things left unfinished, but there simply was no better way to end this story. In the end, nobody knows where to the future will go, but Callie does end up in a place that is way better than the place she was during the early events of this book.
This read is definitely on of the best reads I’ve had this year. Trish Doller has pulled me in with her beautiful and realistic way of bringing a story across, and because of that, she has now landed herself a place among the list of my favorite authors!
This being said, there is just one more thing I would wish to share with you. This is one quote that I noticed and wrote down right away the first time I read it. It sums up Callie’s personality in just one sentence and perfectly brings across why I loved her as a protagonist. You’ll have to click on it if you wish, but if you haven’t read the book I would strongly advise against, as it may spoil the ending for you. Because honestly, I want for you to have the same experience while reading as I had.
View Spoiler »Hope blooms on the surface of my sadness. It's improbable that our relationship will survive the time and distance. Except improbable is not impossible. There are so many maybes in life, but sometimes you just have to put your faith in possibility. « Hide Spoiler