Monday, September 23, 2013

Life Isn't Perfect, Sometimes All You Can Ask For Is Something Like Normal

"Except the past can’t be rewound and this is the life I chose."
--Trish Doller, Something Like Normal

Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's USA, 214 pages
Publication Date: June 19th, 2012
Source: Borrowed

Goodreads Description

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.

My Thoughts

Wow. I like to think myself a fast reader and I DEVOURED this book. From, literally, page 2 I did not want to put this book down. Travis is the narrator and you immediately hear his voice in this story. I LOVE books like this. I can’t explain the whys or hows behind it, I’m not a writer, I’m a reader, and as a reader there is something so amazing about a story that for one reason or another you can hear the narrator’s voice in your head from the first page. Something Like Normal was like this. *sigh*

Travis is a Marine on leave after being deployed to Afghanistan. His home life is less than desirable and he is trying to figure out meaning in the life he left behind. His (atrocious) ex-girlfriend is dating his brother, his dad is a perpetual asshole (but a former Green Bay Packer so he gets one point for cool), and his mother is an absolute doll. She was one of my favorite characters actually. His mother is a source of quiet strength and her growth throughout the book is on the periphery but very present. I adored his mom.

Travis. Where do I begin? Blunt, understandably damaged, and imperfect. Short end of it—I loved him. While this story isn’t a funny one, his commentary had me laughing out loud multiple times and oh, look at that, I’m only on page 12. Seriously. The way Trish Doller writes that of a teenage boy coming back from war is just perfection. His observations are hilarious and his reaction to what he went through while in Afghanistan will have your heart breaking for him. He is not perfect. He makes mistakes. And there were a few times I wanted to pull a Harper and punch him in the face myself. But his good moments SO outweigh the hiccups of poor judgment. He is kind and thoughtful and is a good man at the end of the day. Though, he will deny that time and time again. It is his imperfections that make his characters honest and real and beautiful.

Harper. Kickass. I LOVE this name, first of all. Like, I’m obsessed with it. And Trish gave me so much more reason to love it more than I already did. Harper is a cut-the-shit and give-it-to-me straight kind of girl. Love this. She doesn’t push Travis in any way, she is just there. I loved her wit and her unassuming charm. She is hard to put into words more than that. READ THIS BOOK and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I loved her, though. Fantastic female character.

The look at men coming back from war was done so well, in my opinion. I had the utmost respect for the military before this book and I have even more after reading it. I cannot even begin to imagine the horrors they are put through, but this book gave me an understanding of just how difficult it must be coming back from something as horrifying as war. I just thought this entire element was done amazingly. I loved reading about this.

I love how the entire story felt real. The characters, the plot development, the emotions, it was all honest. Life isn’t perfect, especially trying to find your way back after experiencing war. I found it absolutely breathtaking and beautiful that Travis is working on moving forward. Gah, I have no more intelligent words to try and describe my feelings on this absolutely moving story.

Should You Read This Book? YES! It is so well-written, the characters are fantastic, and the emotions are all real.


  1. OMG I love this book!! I read it last year (borrowed it from Estelle) but I just bought a copy for myself recently (I'm hoping to re-read soon!). I absolutely loved Travis and Harper too. Their voices were so clear and real. I felt like I knew them. The author's writing is just amazing. Glad you loved it too!!

  2. I'm seriously SO HAPPY YOU LOVED THIS. Travis <3333 I read this back in like January or February and I STILL think Travis' story is one of the most memorable out of all the books I've read. TEARSSSS AT THE ONE PART THAT WE BOTH CRIED AT.

  3. Like you, I loved how REAL this book. Sometimes I think that YA boys (as much as I swoon over them) are so unrealistic. I mean, how many real teen boys that are as thoughtful, put together and kinda perfect as the boys love in books? I'm not saying they don't exist. Just maybe not as prevalent as they are in books. Travis, on the other hand, is prickly, flawed and off-putting. But, at the same time, he makes you love him. And that speaks so highly to Trish's talent as a writer. GOSH - I need to re-read this.

  4. YES. I have been fangirling about Trish Doller all day because holy goodness, Where the Stars Still Shine is amazing too. Her books are ones that I will definitely push on anyone who asks me for contemporary recs! Your review is so good. I couldn't seem to find the words to explain WHY I adored Something Like Normal so much, but you said it perfectly :) I was amazed at how well Trish Doller could write from the male POV and how REAL her characters seem. She is an insta-buy author for sure!

  5. LOVE this one! Oh, I very much need to re-read it soon. And I totally agree about devouring it! I couldn't put it down, and it seemed like it went by in a flash. So much love! ♥

  6. Yay! Love this book and love Trish Doller!! <3 How much did you hate Paige and that little red bikini??? hahaha I have this on my kindle and regret it because I want it on my top shelf!


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