Jun 21, 2012

Review: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
June 19th, 2012 from Bloomsbury

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.

Oh, wow! The blurb from Lauren Myracle is so spot on. I felt all of the things she described and I am telling you, read this book now! I was so excited to read a book with a male point of view, and not just a male, but an older teen male. I can't think of a whole lot of contemporary fiction books with older teen male protagonists. Travis is back for a 30-day leave after he loses his best friend in combat. He comes home to an ish storm and soon realizes that he is a different man and doesn't quite fit in the same way he used to. Travis felt so very real to me. He fights his demons, leftover from the war, and he is so not perfect. I ached every time he made a mistake and then I found myself saying, "Well hell, can you blame the guy?" I wanted to give him so much leeway because of loss, but sometimes I cringed over his decisions.

There is a dynamic group of characters in this story as well. Travis' home life isn't exactly peachy and he is thrown into his parents mess. We quickly learn that the issues go way beyond the time that Travis was in boot camp and in Afghanistan. The family dynamics are complicated, very complicated, but Travis' relationship with his mother is special. They have a bond that can't be denied and when they lean on each other, it is moving. Travis' fellow Marines are a force and their rowdy and raunchy humor was pretty funny. When Travis begins a relationship with Harper, a girl he has middle school history with, we start to see the real Travis, the Travis that Travis wants to be. That Harper is a patient and forgiving girl. I really enjoyed her as well and their romance was great to watch. 

This story deals with real and current issues; the high pressure that teens go through to please their parents, the pressure to be somebody right out of high school, and that crazy time in your life where you transition from childhood to adulthood. This book covers it all, and more, so very well. There is some adult content - Travis is an adult, after all, so I would not recommended for those under 15. Now, do what Myracle says and go buy this book now!

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