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Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
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Something Like Normal (edition 2012)

by Trish Doller

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2674242,587 (4.16)9
Member:lynnm
Title:Something Like Normal
Authors:Trish Doller
Info:Bloomsbury USA Childrens (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction, Ebook, Young Adult
Rating:*****
Tags:fiction, YA, ebook, Nook, 2012

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Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

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Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Something Like Normal is a fun romance and a believable approach towards soldiers with PTSD. It is about a US veteran, Travis, coming home on leave from Iraq. But he comes home, where his dad is Always Disapproving, his mom is always Worried and also getting bullied by her husband, and everyone wants to know what Iraq and the war is like and Travis is completely uninterested in talking to anyone about it. He has PTSD, which he is trying to hide as much as possible from everyone. He crosses paths with Harper, a girl he knew in high school, and is determined to befriend her, because she seems more “real” than his other old friends, and he wants to try to be as normal as possible, instead of obsessing over his war experiences.

It probably sounds like a Nicholas Sparks book but to me it was much more honest than that. The story is very character-driven. Besides Travis and Harper and their relationship, and Travis and his difficult relationships with his family members, there are also his old high school friends (and enemies), Harper’s dad, and Travis’s surviving friends from his platoon, who visit so that they can all attend the funeral of one of their friends who didn't make it. Travis has a lot of guilt over his friend's death to deal with, too. He keeps trying to hide all of his inner turmoil over this and his shellshock from the war in general, and the way he slowly opens up, especially to Harper, was sympathetically done.

I really liked the romance in this book. It was only a part of the story and only a part of the characters, which is my favorite way to have romance in a book (a part of their life, not the be-all, end-all). Harper is very much her own person, and has horrible memories of Travis that he has to prove wrong before she can give him a chance at all. The progression of their relationship is just really cute though and I love both of them.

So as you can probably guess, there is a lot of relationship drama between all of these characters. But it was very well-written and engaging, and it's very easy to empathize with Boy. Despite the tough subject matter, this is a light, fast read.

(review also posted on my blog, bahnree.blogspot.com) ( )
  Stebahnree | Mar 13, 2016 |
Something Like Normal is a fun romance and a believable approach towards soldiers with PTSD. It is about a US veteran, Travis, coming home on leave from Iraq. But he comes home, where his dad is Always Disapproving, his mom is always Worried and also getting bullied by her husband, and everyone wants to know what Iraq and the war is like and Travis is completely uninterested in talking to anyone about it. He has PTSD, which he is trying to hide as much as possible from everyone. He crosses paths with Harper, a girl he knew in high school, and is determined to befriend her, because she seems more “real” than his other old friends, and he wants to try to be as normal as possible, instead of obsessing over his war experiences.

It probably sounds like a Nicholas Sparks book but to me it was much more honest than that. The story is very character-driven. Besides Travis and Harper and their relationship, and Travis and his difficult relationships with his family members, there are also his old high school friends (and enemies), Harper’s dad, and Travis’s surviving friends from his platoon, who visit so that they can all attend the funeral of one of their friends who didn't make it. Travis has a lot of guilt over his friend's death to deal with, too. He keeps trying to hide all of his inner turmoil over this and his shellshock from the war in general, and the way he slowly opens up, especially to Harper, was sympathetically done.

I really liked the romance in this book. It was only a part of the story and only a part of the characters, which is my favorite way to have romance in a book (a part of their life, not the be-all, end-all). Harper is very much her own person, and has horrible memories of Travis that he has to prove wrong before she can give him a chance at all. The progression of their relationship is just really cute though and I love both of them.

So as you can probably guess, there is a lot of relationship drama between all of these characters. But it was very well-written and engaging, and it's very easy to empathize with Boy. Despite the tough subject matter, this is a light, fast read.

(review also posted on my blog, bahnree.blogspot.com) ( )
  Stebahnree | Mar 13, 2016 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this gritty romance. Doller captured Travis' voice perfectly and, though he had his faults, I found him to be a likeable and engaging character. I enjoyed going on his journey, a broken Marine suffering post traumatic stress disorder and guilt at not being able to save his best friend from being killed by the Taliban. However, Harper was my favourite character. She was strong and vibrant, and handled Travis beautifully. She stood up to him at times, but was patient and caring when he needed it. Their relationship was realistic and developed over time, which was refreshing. Overall, an emotional read about loss, guilt, forgiveness and healing. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 23, 2016 |
Travis Stephenson is a Marine home on leave after a deployment in Afghanistan, and things aren't peaceful on the home front. His relationship with his father is still as bad as it was when Travis joined the Marines to get away from his disapproval. His younger brother is dating his ex-girlfriend, Paige, and driving his car without permission. His mother is behaving oddly, his parent's marriage may be breaking up, and he no longer has anything in common with his old friends. His worst problem is that he's consumed by guilt over the death of his best friend in combat and experiencing serious PTSD symptoms. The one bright spot in all this is Harper. She and Travis have bad history going back to middle school, but he's hoping that they can put it behind them because she's the only person in Florida he actually wants to spend time with.

I had a very mixed reaction to this book. I liked some aspects of it very much and others not at all. On the positive side Travis is a great POV character and his story was engaging. He isn't perfect by any means, but he felt very real for a 19 year old dealing with PTSD and a host of other personal pressures who is trying to grow up and figure out how to move forward with his life. That aspect of the story was very well done. I also liked his relationship with his friends from his unit. Their interactions are that combination of profane, mean, and supportive that's so common in the friendships of young men and I enjoyed them.

Unfortunately other aspects of the book weren't as strong. The main issues were with romance. Travis and Harper had very bad history which was Travis' fault. When he ran into her and tried to be casual and friendly she literally punched him in the face. I'm not one to advocate violence, but he had it coming. Unfortunately, that was it. From there they moved right into a tentative relationship that quickly became something more. It felt like their history got swept under the rug so we could hurry up and get to the romance and then the romance was unsatisfying because Harper remained underdeveloped as a character. The strong girl who gave Travis a black eye ended up as little more than the stereotype of the perfect girlfriend instead of a fully realized character.

The problem was made worse by the unsubtle contrast drawn between her and Paige. Paige was such a lousy person that she was almost a cartoon version of the trampy bad girl. Compared to Harper the incredibly supportive and forgiving virgin her character felt ridiculous and the whole thing had more than a whiff of Madonna/whore slut-shaming. I'm never comfortable with that and I really didn't like it in this case. It just wasn't well done.

My other main complaint is that I would have liked to see more interaction between Travis and his brother Ryan, and a better resolution to their conflict. They each had a long list of reasons to dislike the other and plenty of those complaints were valid, but ultimately the problem lay far more with their parents than with them and I wish Travis had been able to see that. In other respects Travis actually displayed a good bit of self-awareness for his age, but not when it came to Ryan. I was left wondering what the story would look like from his POV and whether either of them ever figured out that they should stop wasting their time being mad at each other and be mad at their parents instead.

Overall I enjoyed Travis' story, but I really wish the problems hadn't overshadowed the excellent parts as much as they did. ( )
  LoriAnnK | Apr 16, 2015 |
While on leave from a tour in Afghanistan, 19-year-old Travis returns to his Florida hometown haunted by nightmares of his best friend being killed in combat and struggling with PTSD. When Travis gets to know Harper, a girl whose reputation he'd ruined with false rumors years before, he wonders if maybe a second chance with her might just be a second chance at a something-like-normal life for himself. "Something Like Normal" was a short, poignant read that at turns made me laugh out loud and weep openly. This book is a fantastic glimpse into what so many young soldiers are facing today. ( )
  TheMadHatters | Apr 19, 2014 |
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When Travis returns home from Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother has stolen his girlfriend and car, and he has nightmares of his best friend getting killed but when he runs into Harper, a girl who has despised him since middle school, life actually starts looking up.… (more)

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