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.
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Something Like Normal is a story that shows the importance of valuing your life and the people in it. It was really beautiful in that way. I loved Travis's way of telling his story - it was such a realistic POV. I was so emotionally attached to his story almost right off the bat. The relationship between him and Harper was awesome - I loved watching it grow.
I simply cannot imagine being in Travis's shoes. He puts on such a brave face and I cannot credit him enough for that. My heart just broke with this book. I had all the feelings and was just so affected by it. It is a story that will stick with me.
Harper is one of my favorite characters of all time I think - I loved that she is so real and genuine. She was just such a good person and I loved the quirky side of her. She volunteers with an organization and sea turtle nest sits - that would TOTALLY be me if I lived near the ocean.
The one thing I do wish is that Something Like Normal had been a bit longer. The story was so well done and I was so into the story and I just wanted to see a little more of Travis's story and what was happening with him. I loved the unique way Trish Doller did end the book. It was different and I really enjoyed it.
Something Like Normal is a stunning debut from Trish Doller. I absolutely cannot wait for her next book, Where the Stars Still Shine. If it is even a fraction of the awesome that was Something Like Normal, it will be amazing. Contemporary is a genre that is so much a hit or miss for me and Something Like Normal was a definite hit.
Travis is one of my favorite characters I have ever read. Why? Because he is real. Being inside his head was insightful and at times very painful. The roller coaster of his life in Afghanistan, I can imagine, is portrayed to a tee. When Travis returns from his tour, after losing his best friend in an attack, he has no idea where he fits in to his "normal" life. His family life is messed up, to say the least, and he can't get the nightmares of Charlie's death out of his head.
Harper has quite the history with Travis that goes all the way back to middle school. She is one kick butt girl that would be a heck of a friend to anyone...but don't cross her! She is a special person and is there for Travis in a way that no one else is. She doesn't pry or push him but really challenges him in ways he doesn't even understand.
I can't imagine being in Travis' shoes. He tries to put on a brave face but he is suffering with issues that not many of us will ever understand. I challenge you after you read this to not look at the next serviceman you see in a different way or hear a news story about another fallen soldier and not tear up. This book made me realize once again what a valuable resource veterans our to our country.
This book is too important to not read. I can't simply just recommend this book. I give it my highest of recommendations. I think everyone should read it. In fact, I would a buy a copy for everyone if I could. And I won't believe you if you tell me that when you read the last two pages you weren't be a sloppy, sobbing mess. I'm thinking about it now and here come the tears again.
I only meant to "peek" at this but was pulled in and had to read until I finished the entire book which took about 3 hours and then I was crying ALL THE TEARS!
I can't stop talking about this book now! It made me laugh, it made me cry, it broke my heart, it gave me hope and it made me want to do SOMETHING for Marines everywhere.
When nineteen year old Travis returns homes from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, his life plays out like a sad country song. He's lost his girl, lost his car, his parents are getting divorced and his brother Ryan barely speaks to him which is probably because he's the one who stole Travis' girlfriend. (Smooth move dude) Things are strained with his old friends and Travis can't even drown his sorrows at the local bar without getting a black eye. (He totally deserves this punch in the face but, still)
Travis' comeback is also marred by nightmares of his time spent in the desert and the death of his fellow Marine, and BFF, Charlie, for which Travis feels responsible for. It seems like everyone around him expects life to go back to normal but Travis doesn't even know what "normal" feels like anymore. It isn't until he runs into Harper, a girl he's known since middle school, that life begins to look up. The more time they spend together the more Travis realizes, Harper might be the key to helping him find a new normal.
I will admit it took me a few pages to get used to the language but these are Marines so they aren't going to be on their best behavior 24/7. ;) I LOVED Travis and my heart broke for him. He's been through a life changing experience that's left him broken and damaged in ways impossible to understand unless you've lived through it. He's doing the best he can even if that means making a few mistakes along the way.
His family isn't the most supportive which is sad although his Mom is his biggest cheerleader. I wanted to tell his brother Ryan to "Suck it up cupcake!" and his father could use a good punch in the face. Paige, his ex-girlfriend is a word I will not repeat but let's just say, I'm not a fan of hers, OK? And then there's Harper...
Harper is just as much a hero as Travis in my opinion. She too, has fought a battle of her own for years and when she comes face to face with her "enemy", she takes NO.PRISONERS. SEMPER-FI GIRLFRIEND! ;) She shows Travis grace and mercy when others would've kicked him to the curb. She allows him to be himself while not letting him make excuses. She encourages him to get help when it becomes painfully obvious that he needs to do something. (This was so hard to read because of the raw emotion)
This story paints a realistic and moving picture of what life is like for soldiers returning from war. It's very easy for those of us at home to expect them to assimilate back into regular life but how can they? Comparing them to previous war veterans and questioning why this generation can't seem to cope as well as the men who survived WWI, WWII or Korea isn't fair either. We need to support our soldiers, encouraging them in any way we can. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome shouldn't be seen as a career ender either.
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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.
Realistic (I think) portrayal of a young Marine
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.
Best male POV I've ever read. So realistic and genuine.
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)
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.
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.