Something Like Normal by Trish Dollar
Hardcover, 224 pgs.
Expected publication: June 19th, 2012 by 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.