Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on June 19th 2012
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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.