Something Like Normal

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5.0 (3)
 
4.9 (5)
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5 reviews
Overall rating
 
4.9
Plot
 
5.0(5)
Characters
 
4.6(5)
Writing Style
 
5.0(5)
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Touching and gritty
If you've ever wanted a taste of life as a soldier, you can find it in this gritty, touching and romantic book by Trish Doller.
Travis has his faults, but he is such a great narrator and it was quite a journey being in his head, living out his story with him. I got so lost in what he was going through--from his memories of Charlie (his dead best friend), his frustrations with his parents, his nightmares and triggers to the story with Harper. Speaking of, she is such a great girl. Their story from middle school is rough, and I hope that it can get across the message to others that it did for me. Lies of omission can still hurt, and labels that get put on you or because of you doesn't go away as easily as one might think. But I am glad that they could overcome that because I love how their friendship progresses and what happens to them. Harper also lightened the mood a lot with her remarks. She added a whole other dimension though with how she rolled with the punches (and sometimes doled them out) and how she responded to Travis.
Another character that I adored was Charlie's mom. We didn't get much of her, but what we saw was nice.
The dynamics between Travis and his parents felt authentic to me. His mom was behind him, making support packages and joining military mom's groups. She had this feeling of familiarity to me, which is a good thing. Watching her character change and evolve in here made me smile, and seeing it through Travis' eyes made it all the better. Travis and his dad had a rocky relationship and I think that its portrayed well in the present although we do get some peeks at what got them to that point.
Trish Doller has a nack for writing emotions. I was moved by the story and his flashbacks of what happened in Afganistan as well as the guilt he carried with him. There are so many layers to this book, and it kept my attention the whole way through.
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There is nothing normal about Something Like Normal - it's AMAZING.
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
When I first heard of Something Like Normal I couldn’t wait for it to be released. Not only did it sound amazing but it was one of most anticipated books of the year. My expectations were high and debut author, Trish Doller managed to deliver and then some. I would even go as far to say that Something Like Normal is my favourite 2012 release. I am so very impressed.

Travis isn’t coping – at all. He’s been fighting in Afghanistan for the last year and has arrived home to a lot of changes. He’s dealing with the after effects of war and on top of that, he’s struggling to come to terms with the death of his best friend, Charlie, who died in combat. My heart broke for Travis, it really did. He’s been through so much already and as the book’s tagline reads: war is only half the battle. Travis is hands down the best male POV I’ve ever come across. His voice is genuine, authentic and unflinchingly real; as soon as I started reading, I instantly connected with him. If more authors were capable of writing male protagonists half as well as Trish demonstrated with Travis, I have no doubt that readers would be in hot pursuit to get their grabby hands on more male leading titles.

I love Harper, she’s the kind of character I could see myself being friends with in real life - relatable, strong, caring and smart, as well as gorgeous inside and out. She stood her ground and didn’t take crap from Travis. From her feisty personality, to her laidback, rock chic sense of style - seriously, what’s not to love?

My only excuse is that this book was too short, but in truth, it was perfect. I only say that because I wanted more – more story, more characters and more pages of brilliance.

It’s been over a month since I turned the last page and I’m still reeling. I’m not a huge fan of re-reading and my shelf is constantly growing but I’m positive that by the end of the year, I’ll have read and devoured Something Like Normal for a second time round. Do me a favour and read this ASAP, you won’t regret it.
Good Points
Lived up to my extremely high expectations.
Best male POV I've ever read. So realistic and genuine.
Lovely prose.
Epic characters.
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Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Nineteen year old Travis is enlisted in the Marines. As he returns from a tour in Afghanistan, he gets some upsetting news. His parents are splitting, his brother has taken his ex-girlfriend and his car, and he can't even interact with his friends like he used to. But one day after coming home, he finds himself in a bar where he meets the one chick who's life he made a living hell in school... Harper.
As the book goes on, we see that Travis has a few things he can't shake, like nightmares of being in Afghanistan of his dead best friend Charlie who was in his company. He doesn't want anyone to know about it and think he's crazy, so he keeps it to himself.
About Harper and Travis' romance, it wasn't too fast paced and it fit the story. Granted there were some times I wanted to jump into the book and slap Travis for being such a bone head, but he's a guy. (They're not really all that smart lol) I did love them together tho. Like the baby turtle scene. Golden. It was so incredibly cute and the fact that there was baby turtles there.... Yeah, that's a win for sure lol.
Every page in this book was filled with raw emotion. What made it so much better was the fact that I know a little about the military from family being in it, and I can relate 100% to this. (I was also a military girlfriend once, so I realllly understand....) It was really heart wrenching to "watch" Travis deal with seeing Charlie and not being able to help him. I was glad when the one person did convince him to get help.
Another thing I loved about this book was the fact that it was told from a male's POV. We don't have many of those in YA anymore, so it was refreshing to get to read a story a different way. Now although the language was pretty bad, I just related it to him being a guy and in the military.
Something Like Normal is about a truly broken character with only one person that can help build him himself back up. Although he is so damaged, he is very likable. He will definitely win your heart and have him thinking about him nonstop. Believe me when I tell you, Travis is definitely a hero.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is something serious and shouldn't be handled lightly. Having gone to these awful places during a time of war is hard and scary and should be looked at with admiration that they gave up their time to do it when we wouldn't. So if you know someone on active duty, on reserve, retired, a veteran or whatever, be sure to thank them. Because remember, they didn't/don't have to do what they did/do. (And I say this in the most non-lecturey, serious way possible :D)
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Sucks You In and Makes You Feel
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
There are some subjects that I avoid like the plague, and current politics tops the list. A subset of that is anything about the US' resent wars, both Afghanistan and Iraq. Were it not for my challenge with myself to read as many Apocalypsies books as I can, I definitely would not have picked this one up. Let me just say that I would seriously have been missing out.

Something Like Normal is about a Marine deployed in Afghanistan, but Doller manages to avoid any preaching on the war itself, either negative or in endorsement. This book isn't about the political side of the war; it's about the emotions. Told from Travis' perspective, Something Like Normal is not intended to capture the truth of the war as a whole, but merely to highlight its effect on one person.

In the opening scene, Travis has just arrived home on leave, a mandated, extended leave to allow him to deal with his problems dealing with his best friend's death. Travis is not the kind of guy that I like in real life, and he's not the typical YA hero. He's flawed, even a bit of an asshole. His gut instinct is to violence, he makes too many decisions with his dick, and he doesn't recognize that his mother is just as trapped in their family as he is. I mean, if you told me that I would read a book and sympathize with a guy who hooked up with his ex-girlfriend (now his brother's girlfriend) while flirting with a wonderful girl, then I would have told you that you were insane.

Still, that's precisely what happened. Something about the writing really made everything feel so real. I got completely sucked into Travis' narration. Despite my disgust for his behavior much of the time, I couldn't help being right there with him. The writing is not ornate, not the typical style I most appreciate, but it fits Travis perfectly: blunt, slightly crude, occasionally funny, and fairly intelligent. The other aspect of the writing that made this work was how reserved, distant, and cold Travis' narration felt most of the time, the exceptions being time spent with Harper or with his marine buddies when you can feel him come alive.

Harper. I have to talk about her. I just love her, even if she made choices I never would have made. She's a completely wonderful girl, and Travis doesn't deserve her. I think she knows that, but she's been in love with him for ages and she's going to get what she wants, just like she'll find a way to pay her way through college. She is such a caring soul, shown both in her treatment of her father and of Travis. Though she may lash out initially, she always ends up doing the right thing. I have so much respect for her as a character.

Another amazing character that I really have to talk about is Travis' mom. Rarely will you see a parent lauded in a YA book review, but I really liked her. She's so completely a mom all the way through, with the care packages, the smothering hug on arrival, the clothing she chose for him, and her projects to try to help out her son's cause. At first, she seems a weak character, controlled by her jerk of a husband, but there's so much more to her. I loved watching her and Travis learn to support and understand one another, brought together through the magic of beer. In fact, the quote I chose for this book is one that struck a chord with me, because it's so like my own relationship with my mother.

There is just so much life in this novel. Part of that stems from the fact that nothing has been romanticized. Doller isn't trying to show the great American hero; she's trying to show a teenager forced to grow up much too fast and coming apart at the seems. The teens in this novel certainly do things that some parents will not want their precious snowflakes to read, but everything feels authentic. It made me cry, it made me angry, it gave me hope, it made me think, and it made me laugh, all many times over.

Despite the hype (I've yet to see a review of this that isn't a rave), I was in no way let down with this novel. Skeptics, have no fear of the subject matter, Something Like Normal is a book you'll want to read. I was scarcely able to put it down, and, when I did, I was immediately sucked back into its emotional vortex the moment I resumed reading.
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Couldn't put it down.
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Travis "Solo" Stephenson is on leave after a tour in Afghanistan. Although his room looks exactly like he left it, little things in his life are no longer the same. There's tension between his parents, his little brother "stole" his girlfriend and his car, and he just can't escape the nightmares and hallucinations of his best friend, Charlie, who was killed in action.
I was hooked after the first chapter. Every once in awhile I stumble upon a book like this. An honest character with real feelings & emotions.
Good Points
A quick read with just over 200 pages. Sometimes I really enjoy a shorts book that doesn't skimp on the plot or depth.
Marines...mhmm.
Realistic (I think) portrayal of a young Marine
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black eyes, broken families, painful nightmares, and someone to help you through it
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Told from Travis’ perspective, a story about falling for the unexpected, helping the ones you love, and trying to move on from a painful past. There were some things that made me want to roll my eyes in the book. The idea behind this story wasn’t very original but Trish Doller made it creative with original characters and such a harsh reality about not being able to save your best friend.
Good Points
I liked the relationship between Harper and Travis most os the time because there were a few bumps with them that showed just how serious they wanted to be together. The character of Travis was really creative and well written with the way he felt not only towards Harper but also Paige. I liked how Paige still had an annoying hold on him because it was a little different from other books. The fact that he was having nightmares and visions about his late best friend, Charlie. Travis seemed so real to me, as if I knew him just from reading about him, it was great.
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