By: Melanie | December 23, 2013 | (22) Comments

Review: Something Like Normal by Trish DollerSomething Like Normal by Trish Doller
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 240
Source: Received in exchange for review
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Sometimes the best you can hope for is something like normal.

Sometimes what you get might be even better.

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.

After reading Where The Stars Still Shine and hating it with all my might, I still ended up wanting to read Something Like Normal as it sounded like nothing I’ve read before. I am glad I gave Trish Doller’s works another try because her debut in my opinion; was a huge success.

Ever since Travis Stephenson joined the Marines, his life has been everything but normal. Suffocated with grief, guilt and confusion when he finally comes home for 30 days from Afghanistan, Travis is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While he may not have been permanently physically damaged, but he’s mentally damaged forever. Nightmares haunt him at night; flashbacks linger in the corner of his eye in the day. His arrival at home doesn’t help; it only causes more turbulence for everyone. His brother, Ryan stole his girlfriend (Paige) and his car, his father has been cheating on his mum and he soon finds out his mum hasn’t rested well at all since he left in the biting worry that Travis wouldn’t come home alive. Awkward and falling apart, Travis doesn’t know if he can cope with it any longer.

“Maybe it’s time to find a new normal.”

Travis was an easy character to empathise and connect with. He’s a teen soldier from Afghanistan who finally comes home to find something like normal. But nothing is, he even sleeps on the ground instead of his comfy bed. I felt his sorrow and pain that followed him like a shadow and I was curious about what he had gone through during his stay in Afghanistan. Trish Doller does her research well and creates a believable male lead struggling from the loss of his war friend and abrupt change from the life he knew before he left. But his life before he left wasn’t too good anyway. His father used to force him to play football, critique his every move, and when Travis got the chance, he quit. But his father was more than furious and soon, Travis decided to join the Marines, because of his overbearing father. Travis also had a girlfriend, Paige and they’d never had anything more than sex. So when he finds out Paige moved onto his brother, no tough feelings.

The romance in this book, unlike Where The Stars Still Shine, was well developed and sweet. Harper and Travis got off on a bad foot in middle grade when Harper starts getting called a slut because of Travis. But when Travis comes back, a completely changed young man, he starts learning from his mistakes and falls for Harper. I love Harper. Her character was strong and loving. She was a pretty average, or ‘normal’ character, which is exactly perfect for Travis.

The only complaint I have with this book is the length. It felt too short (only 240 pages!) and there was a lot that Trish Doller wanted to include. I felt that Harper forgave Travis too easily but I liked how Harper was a drama and cliché girl.

Something Like Normal was an unflinching and surprisingly emotional read about a teen soldier back in town and adjusting to his not so easy life. Unlike the cover suggests this is not just a romance book.

~Thank you Bloomsbury Australia for sending me this copy!~

4 Stars
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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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22 Responses to Review: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

  1. Aimee says:

    This one sounds really good. I’m always looking for well-developed romances, so I’ll definitely give this one a shot! Lovely review, Melanie.
    Aimee recently posted…These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerMy Profile

  2. Well-developed romances are always a treat to read. The readers don’t have to suffer from too much eye rolls from the main characters because we feel like it wasn’t forced. This seems like a great read for me, and I actually bought this book, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it. Thanks for reviewing it! 🙂
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…Happy Holidays & HiatusMy Profile

  3. Melliane says:

    It’s again a new author and a new book to me. You’re perfect to make me discover new novels! thank you. It’s always so great to have some characters like that so you can relate easily to them. And you’re right 240 pages isn’t a lot mainly when it’s good lol
    Melliane recently posted…A Study in Ashes by Emma Jane HollowayMy Profile

  4. Charlotte says:

    Now, I am really curious about this book. Jeann gave this one a not so stellar rating mainly because of the cheating that transpired between the characters. But after reading this review, I’ve decided to add the book on my TBR and see if things will work for me.

    Lovely review, Mel!
    Charlotte recently posted…Book Review: Dead BeautifulMy Profile

  5. Annie says:

    I read this one last year and quite enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to trying Where The Stars Still Shine next. 🙂
    Annie recently posted…Book Review: Bully by Penelope DouglasMy Profile

  6. Lexa Cain says:

    Isn’t it weird how a debut novel can be really good, but the follow-up isn’t? Sometimes I think it’s because a publishing house will push for something too fast, and then not edit properly. But it’s good that you were brave enough to tackle this one after hating the other, and it paid off because you enjoyed it! 🙂

    Happy Christmas, Mel!
    Lexa Cain recently posted…Christmas in EgyptMy Profile

  7. Jules says:

    I knew it would be good! Haha 😀

    I am dying to read this, reading your review only confirms its awesomeness!
    Jules recently posted…A long overdue hiatusMy Profile

  8. Omg I HATED Where The Stars Still Shine, too! I thought it was executed just so wrong, so I’m so happy that this one was much better. I love how Travis was a relatable character and it sounds like reading his narrative is so heartbreaking but amazing. I’m going to have to read this one really soon it’s a shame that it’s too short though because it sounds like the book would’ve been so much better than it already is with a little more development <33

    Fantastic review, Melanie!

  9. Faye says:

    Not sure about Where The Stars Shine as I’ve never read that LOL but thanks for the warning, I’ll make sure to steer clear of it 😛

    Aside from that, I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I’m not into Contemporary and am very picky of what contemporary books I’v read, but this sounds mighty interesting. I’ll check it out sometime in the future!
    Faye recently posted…Review: Tempest by Julie CrossMy Profile

  10. Stephanie B says:

    Wow. This turned out to be very different from what the cover suggested. Excellent review, Mel. It sounds heart wrenchingly beautiful.
    Stephanie B recently posted…Friday Couple: Landon and JamieMy Profile

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