Review: Something Like Normal by Trish Dollar

Something Like Normal by Trish Dollar
Hardcover, 224 pgs.
Expected publication: June 19th, 2012 by Bloomsbury
Source: Netgalley/Bloomsbury
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 was a book that I was dying to read after I saw that people were absolutely raving about it.  And I have to say, I am so glad I did!  It completely blew me away and was a book I completely fell in love with.

Now, if you haven’t read that description please go back and do so.  Is there anything that really stands out to you?  I can’t say that much did for me.  Yeah, it sounds good but not absolutely incredible.  But it was, trust me.  Travis was a character that felt real to me.  His typical guy bit as well as his sense of honor (yes, that bit is in the description!) that really starts to shine through as the book goes on.  He’s had to deal with a lot and he’s struggling, but he really starts to find his way in this book.  As he struggles with his friends death and post traumatic stress he’s also dealing with his awful father and his mother who’s been broken by her husbands douche-bag ways and ideas. At the same time he’s falling for Harper who was an absolute gem.  I was a little surprised she was willing to give him the time of day after I heard of the awful things he did (or said) way back (even though he didn’t really) but she’s very forgiving and I felt like she saw through him and saw all the good he had stored up inside when so many others didn’t really.  Not even himself.

This book is definitely aimed at more mature readers (high school, not middle school) as the main character is in the Marines (so a bit of cursing) and there’s lots of talk about sex (fade out, no description).  It wasn’t anything that bothered me, it all felt important to the story and made it more authentic.  I just want a warning there for the younger readers.

I very highly recommend this book to mature YA readers as well as adults.  This is a book that boys would likely enjoy as well as long as they can look past the kissing on the cover.  It was a fast read and full of beauty that you surely don’t want to miss!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.

This book qualifies for the YA Contemporary Challenge 2012.
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  1. I have heard a bunch of raves for this book but, like you said, nothing really jumps out from the blurb to make me want to read it over the 100’s of other YAs out there. However, with a review like yours, I’m reevaluating! I think I’ll have to get my hands on this one.

  2. I love YA books that are a little more mature.. Comes probably with my age. So, I’m actually super happy I read your review because somehow, I always skipped this book and totally went of my radar… But you love it way too much for me not to take a closer look at it again :))

  3. Gosh I loved this book! You’re right, the blurb is really unassuming and I almost didn’t read it because I didn’t think I would be crazy about the military theme. Now military themes are fast becoming one of my favorites!And I think the keyword for this book would be “authentic.” I love Travis’ voice:)Great review Candace!

  4. This book was SO amazing! I am so glad you loved it. This was such a powerful book, and I fell in love with the main character!! It was just AWESOME!

  5. Mary, I think you’d like it!

    Danny, I KNOW you’d love this book! I know you well enough to know this is right up your alley!

    Heather, yes, authentic! The whole thing just felt real.

    Loretta, yep, totally awesomesauce!

    Brains, nope, heroes, marines and all that isn’t normally my thing. But this book was different. Very different. Hope you’ll give it a chance!

  6. Awesome review. I’m really curious about this one. My brother is not a Marine, but he IS in the Army, so military stories kind of stick out to me because of that fact. The summary sounds good, like you said, but nothing EXTRAORDINARY…so I’m glad that it’s better than it seems at first glance.

    I do think the cover should have been more gender-neutral though. ahha I can’t see many guys picking this up on their own.


  7. Lauren,
    That was my issue. The cover for this definitely should have been more gender neutral because it’s a book that boys would like. If they can ignore the cover, which many can’t or won’t. Plus it’s not one they would randomly pick up like they might with a gender neutral cover.

  8. This sounds so good! I love that we get a male POV, and I’m encouraged by the mention of an incredible sense of humor – so attractive in a guy I think:) I wasn’t hugely excited for this one previously, but I’m making a note of this for sure now:)

  9. Wonderful review! This one seems so real and powerful. I’ve really seen nothing but good about it; I think I’ll have to pick up a copy.

  10. can’t cant cant cant cant cant cant cant cant cant cant cant cant cant wait for my copy
    i really love male pov
    contemp rocks
    and great lovly review

  11. This one fell under my radar. I didn’t too much about it, but I do love contemporary romances with a male pov so I’ll definitely make a note of it. Thanks for the recommendation!

  12. Ok, I haven’t tried any YA contemporary. I am new to the YA genre(excluding Harry and Twilight..LOL) but your review and the depth of the characters has me adding this to my list..Spectacular review!

  13. You called me out on it, Candace — I have to admit that I really wasn’t that interested in this before from the synopsis either x) But your five mushrooms must have some sort of magical properties because now I completely am! I like how this one is more mature than your average YA book, and having an awesome male protagonist is always a win! 😉

    Beautiful review, Candace! It’s a good thing you said this was good for girls and guys because one of my guy friends was actually just looking for recommendations! PERFECT TIMING :) <3

  14. You’re right the synopsis is not one that would immediately call to me but I have also heard the rave about this one and super curious. Travis sounds like a fantastically crafted character. Wonderful review! :)

  15. You know I LOVED this one! It will be on my favorites of ’12 list for sure! Travis was so raw and I loved him so much. The book was just amazing.

  16. So, is this book told in first person from Travis’ POV? I hope so, but either way I’m adding it to my reading list for the All Male Review challenge. It sounds amazing. I really should get on Net Galley more to see what they offer. I totally missed this one.

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