Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
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!~
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