Book Title/Author: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Publisher/Year: Bloomsbury June 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
Other Books From Author: Debut title. Her next book, Where Stars Still Shine, is slated for September 2013.
I received Something Like Normal as a gift from a friend.
Travis has spent a year in Afghanistan as a Marine and comes home on leave to find that everything is different — within himself and around him. He struggles to adapt to being home with a new perspective and feeling the full weight of the death of his best friend and fellow Marine. He’s haunted by those memories of Afghanistan and is confronted by the changes in his parent’s relationship, his ex-girlfriend dating his brother and the way his life is just so far from normal now and how his time in Afghanistan has changed him. It’s not until he runs into Harper, a girl who he’d wronged in middle school, that he starts to enjoy his time home and starts to face all of the things he’s not allowed to bubble to the surface — the death of Charlie, the cracks in his family and the reality of post traumatic stress.
WOW! Let me just start off by saying…if you are a fan of realistic YA fiction, you MUST read this! It’s an example of what I love in realistic YA and, while I don’t attach stars to my reviews because they are so complicated for me, I can tell you, WITHOUT A DOUBT, Something Like Normal has garnered 5 stars from me! One of the best books I’ve read so far in 2013 and it seriously is a gem! I just can’t say enough good things about this book and I feel like my review will never do it justice.
Something Like Normal had one of the BEST male POVs ever — right up there with Adam from Where She Went. It was so fresh and felt like a genuine male perspective — you’ll want to punch him at times, hug him and probably date him. So many times I’ll read a male POV and feel perplexed because it doesn’t feel like ANY guys I know…especially not a teenager..but never once did I feel like this. Travis’ voice, in general, was just one that is so memorable and I adored him and his story. I can’t imagine how he felt coming home from Afghanistan and how changed your perspective is from what you’ve seen and experienced — especially the death of a close friend. My only reference for understanding that is after my mom had died. Suddenly I just didn’t see things the same way and it was hard to operate as normal. You start to see things as more/less important than they were. I think Trish Doller did an amazing job showing the difficulty of a soldier coming back into his normal life and it made me care and think a lot more than I ever have about our soldiers to be completely REAL with you.
While a slim book, the story Something Like Normal tells descended into the depths of my heart and I’m not quite sure it will ever leave. The fullness in which I felt every emotion, the intensity of every heartbreaking scene and the pure and true LOVE I had for these completely special yet flawed characters — Travis, Harper, Travis’ mom, Charlie, Charlie’s moms — is not something that is so easily shaken off by starting another book as is often the case for me. I can’t say I’ve read a book that has affected me like this in a while. My heart swells with a myriad of emotions as I think about this book and is a tribute to Trish Doller’s undeniably beautiful words and ability to make a story not just a story but to transcend into an experience. Not just words on a page but that rare experience where those words seep into your bloodstream and circulates the whole of your body leaving no organ nor piece of tissue untouched.
Your heart is in very capable hands, friends. Something Like Normal is, without a doubt, one of the best contemporary books I’ve ever read and one of my favorite romantic relationships ever as it is beautiful but also flawed as it blossoms (and I loved Travis’ relationship with his mom just as much!). Straight up DAMN AMAZING. Travis’ story will move you and will make your heart soar (and your eyes will experience this phenomena wherein they leak water…). Beautiful, honest and a real stunner of a novel. I will not stop singing praises for this book and I am calling it now — Trish Doller is going to be one of THOSE authors who be a staple in the contemporary YA world. Keep your eye on her! I am excited for what is to come based on the special experience that is Something Like Normal. New favorite author alert for me!
For Fans Of: straight up excellent realistic teen fiction, a great male POV, an “older” YA book, beautiful stories that balance tenderness with the brutal and raw things life throws your way, those “more than real” characters, a romance that is beautiful yet flawed as it blossoms
Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? If you read it, did you love it or feel differently than me? I want to know so we can discuss! Did you cry like a baby like I did at a certain PART at the end? And then again at a part with his mom? As a sidenote, I’m curious if you would consider this novel “New Adult”? THIS is pretty much what I envisioned when I heard of NA — before we knew much about it.