Book Title/Author: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Publication Date/Publisher: June 19, 2012/Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source and Format: Bought for kindle
Rating: 5 stars
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.
I’m from a military family. I grew up in a large military city and now live in a small military town. I remember grocery shopping at the commissary with my grandma and trips to the magical place that is the NEX with my sister in law on trips back home. Everywhere I’ve lived has been military housing adjacent, and I literally can not go anywhere without seeing the telltale haircuts roaming around the streets because you aren’t allowed to bring cars to the schools here.
Obviously my military experience is very different than Travis’s. Everyone I love has come back from their deployments.
I want to talk really quickly about the cover – I feel like it’s not necessarily misleading, but it does a disservice to the story. It’s not a bad cover, but this is so much more than a kissing book. Especially now, when so many books have the kissing covers and we’re all kind of over them. I really like the title/author treatment – it reminds me of a Mandy Moore movie.
Something Like Normal opens as Travis is returning home from his first tour of duty. He reconnects with his ex-girlfriend (in the biblical sense), even though she dumped him for his younger brother while he was deployed. He reconnects with his friends, who are in the same place they were when he left – who have also been co-opted by little bro. He reconnects with his parents: a mother who wasn’t ready for him to go and a perpetually disappointed father. He even reconnects with the first girl he ever kissed…and then she connects her fist to his eye.
Harper Gray, besides having THE BEST name I’ve ever heard, is insanely cool. These two…I thought I loved Callie and Alex in Where the Stars Still Shine but Harper and Alex are like my OTP (is that how you use that?).
The emotional struggle Travis goes through dealing with PTSD is incredibly heartbreaking to witness. When he finally confronts himself with the events and aftermath of Charlie’s death…just don’t let your hanky get too far away from you, because you’re going to need it.
I’m not an especially romantic person, but when a beautiful girl invites a guy to the beach at night, sea turtles are not usually involved.
They are now, if you’re lucky.