Expected Publication: June 19th, 2012
Something Like Normal
By: Trish Doller
Bloomsbury USA Children's
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.
Travis comes home from Afghanistan on leave broken and completely messed up. His new reality at home isn't so awesome either - his Mom and Dad are on the verge of divorce (because his Dad is cheating), his brother has stolen his car AND his girlfriend, plus he can no longer relate to the friends he left behind. Oh, not to mention the fact that Travis is having hallucinations and nightmares about his best friend Charlie, who died in Afghanistan. By chance Travis meets up with Harper, a girl whose reputation he ruined in the 9th grade. At first she wants nothing to do with him, but he manages to find a place in her life in the end. Harper ends up being exactly what Travis needed, especially now that Charlie's memorial is drawing closer and he'll have to face exactly how his friend died over there. Travis also has to deal with fact of 3 more years on active duty. Can he pull it together and begin to heal, or will he be lost in his pain? This book isn't normally something that I would read. I can't normally deal with guy narrators or the stories they tell - Travis was a major exception. This book was so real that Travis, Charlie, and their friends could have been your brother, boyfriend or best friend. It was scary to contemplate. The romance was whirlwind but believable and not insta-love by any means at all. Charlie became a person to me over the course of the novel and by the end his death had my heart breaking in pieces. The portrayl of PTSD was very un-romaticized and the language Doller used to describe it had me uncomfortable - which is an indication of how good it was. Also, Travis is a very real person who makes some pretty bad mistakes. He isn't some perfect romantic, hometown hero. All of the plot felt so real-world in that sense. This was a wonderful book, gritty and realistic enough to get deep into my soul. I will definitely be buying this one in hardcover when it is released and I highly recommend it.
VERDICT: 5/5 Stars
*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is June 19th, 2012.*