Publisher: Bloomsbury Children
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Source: Borrowed from the library || Hardcover
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.
I read Something Like Normal and I'm going to preface this review by saying that there is nothing normal about this truly incredible book. Despite the fact that the novel was a little shorter than I expected, it managed to completely surpass any expectations I had for it. Trish Doller has written a story that's incredibly authentic and moving, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I absolutely adored Travis. There's something so potent to me about seeing a guy so heartbroken and hurting so bad, all while dealing with the burdens of PTSD from going to war and the pressure his father puts on him. There's was something recognizable in his heartache, and something that I could personally sympathize with. More than once, I wanted to reach out to him and offer my love and consolation and hope and just help him feel better. This doesn't excuse any of his particularly rash actions (and ones that I don't approve of necessarily), but I can understand the reason they happened.
Harper is a great character as well, imbued with strength, quirkiness, and a strong sense of self. She seemed special right off the bat, and I just knew that she was meant to play an important role in Travis' life. It seemed pretty cool that they had a history (albeit not one that she or he would want to remember), and I like how they were able to move past their, well, past and into a different sort of relationship.
Apart from these two characters, I love how I felt completely submerged in Travis' story. It's interesting how detailed the entire experience of someone returning from a war and suffering from PTSD, as well as other problems, was shown in this book. It felt very authentic, down to the little things, and that definitely added a little something to the story.
Honestly, my initial reaction to the ending was what the heck? I thought it cut off a bit abruptly, but then I realized that I was actually kind of happy with it. It's enough for me to be able to imagine that Travis goes on to recover little by little, as well as get that happy ending he totally deserves.
Something Like Normal certainly packed a punch for a book that was shorter than I expected. It introduced me to a character that I loved and sympathized with, as well as showed me what it could be like for someone who suffered from PTSD after being involved in a war. Trish Doller did an incredible job bringing to life Travis' story for readers, and I can't wait to see more from her in the years to come!