Something Like Normal
Author: Trish Doller
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
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.
Trish has a new book coming out in September and I heard about it on twitter so I decided to check it out and I discovered Something Like Normal. I read the synopsis and knew I needed to read this book. I bought it and read it the same day.
This book was more than I expected and definitely in a good way. I knew it would be emotional because Travis is back after being Afghanistan for a year and he has grown up a lot since he left. He has made friends and lost friends and he feels so disconnected from his family and his life now that he is back. He is home but he doesn’t feel like he’s home. His mom is a mess, his brother is a douche dating his ex-girlfriend and his dad is a total power hungry dick. He re-connects with Harper, a girl he grew up with and she breaks down his defenses and helps him cope with the guilt and emotions he is feeling.
Travis was a character that I liked but he took time to get in my good graces. I mean, as an MC, I really liked him and I felt for him and everything he had been through and was going through. I can’t imagine what it must be like for a soldier to come home after such a long time in a war zone and try to live a normal life. He was flooded with grief and guilt and plagued by nightmares. He kind of acted like a douche in the beginning and I wish he would have showed Paige the door from the very beginning, especially when he started hanging around Harper. I liked the progression he made as a character though, because he did get much better. I could clearly see that he had grown and I loved how protective he was of his mother and how he stood up to his dad.
“Anyway, given the last two things I did tonight were get punched by his daughter and have sex with my brother’s girlfriend, I’m pretty sure I still qualify as a douchebag.”
I loved Harper and knew she was my kind of girl when she punched Travis right in the face. I loved it and knew Harper was going to be a favorite character of mine. She is so misunderstood and has a false reputation, courtesy of Travis when they were kids. The fact that she even gave him a chance was amazing to me. She is so obviously attracted to him but I love how cool she plays it and I loved the way she supported Travis and was there for him. She comforted him emotionally which was something he really needed. Even when Travis screwed up, like most men do, she put aside her anger to comfort and console him when he needed her the most.
“Harper’s smile is like standing in a patch of sunshine and feels like a reward.”
The pain and emotions that Travis were feeling as he coped with returning from war when so many of his friends didn’t was so incredibly depicted that I felt a hollowness in my chest and a lump in my throat a few times. When Travis left for Afghanistan, his mom was so emotionally destroyed that she is still picking up the pieces and I could feel her fear and sadness as if it was my own. The writing was that good. As he struggled to cope with his emotions and face the changes in himself and his perspective on life, I really felt for him. The connection he made with Harper was so real and he didn’t know how to feel about it. It definitely made him realize that he and Paige never had anything real and he could fall for hard for Harper.
“I don’t know if my life will ever be completely normal again, but something like normal is a good start.”
Overall, I could not put Something Like Normal down and I was undeniably immersed in this story. The writing and the plot was so real and raw and really poured all of the emotions from the characters into my soul. It was definitely a story of coping with loss and finding normal again, if it even exits. Harper became Travis’ normal.
“Awake my soul” by Mumford & sons
“Little House” by Amanda Seyfried
“Keep Holding On” by Avril Lavigne