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Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Something Like Normal

by Trish Doller

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3054655,387 (3.97)10



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Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
I checked this book out from the library, knowing only that it was a contemporary novel. I opened it up and all the inside flap said was “I just came back from Afghanistan. My best friend is dead. And the girl I have crush on punched me in the face.”
Anyways, I went into this pretty much blind.
It was short, it was quick. Good things in a contemporary novel.

Things I Liked:
I liked the representation of Travis’s PTSD—it was very real, and his reaction to it is a standard guy reaction. Also, it was made this book meaningful.

And the development of Travis’s relationship with his mom—which had obviously been strained prior to the beginning of the book, but improved over the course of the book.

Things that I didn’t Like:
Harper: She was not a real person, I’m sorry. Because of Travis, everyone has thought that you are total SLUT since middle school, effectively ruining your entire high school experience. He returns from Afghanistan, you punch him, he shows up at your house at four in the morning and apologizes—lamely—for the whole slut thing, and two days later you’re making out with him? No, this is not how real life works.
Furthermore, within two weeks of your relationship beginning, he asks you to go to a funeral with him in a different city. You go, and when you get there, he tells that he’s cheated on you already during the WEEK AND HALF that you’ve been together. What do you do? You give him the silent treatment—for about six hours. Than funeral happens, he gets depressed, and you’re kissing him again!
I understand that he’s messed up, but that’s no excuse for the things he does to Harper—and even if it is, she should not forgive him that easily.

Needless to say, the romance also moved rather quickly. Quicker than it should have.

Oh, and none of the other character besides Travis, his mother, and Harper received ANY character development at all. Why does Ryan think Travis gets everything? What’s the deal with Paige? The plotline involving Harper and her father and Allison was also left completely unresolved.

Also, there as no coherent plot. There were lots of things happening, but there were all random and unconnected for the most part. No one thing pushed events forward consistently.

This book was a quick, short, and unique read. It had an interesting concept—I think it fell off the mark, though.

The thing is—this book is far too short to encompass all the issues of the story it contains. Another 50 to 100 pages would not have been amiss.
This book is only 210 pages—I generally cap contemporaries at around 350 pages.
This book could have and should have gone right up to that mark.
It's just—I really think the author should have put some more thought into it.

I give it a solid C—because it simply wasn’t ready to be turned in and graded.

( )
  Monica_P | Nov 22, 2018 |
Thoughts After Reading:

Something Like Normal was an okay read. It didn't overwhelm me with emotion like a story about someone who has to cope with the loss of his best friend should. The romance also was just okay.


I'm not usually someone who goes for stories with soldiers, but I enjoy stories that really make me feel a genuine emotion. Travis just lost his best friend and he blames himself. He's trying to deal with nightmares, hallucinations, and adjusting from Afghanistan to coming back home. His mom is so thrilled to have her son home, his father still doesn't respect him from quitting football, and his brother is dating his ex-girlfriend. And then there is Harper, who he started a rumor of and didn't stop back in middle school. He starts falling for the turtle-loving, tough girl she has become. As Travis navigates his life back home he must come to terms with Charlie's death before it eats him up inside.

I was expecting to feel this strong connection and emotion towards Travis. I felt for his relationship with Charlie and his struggle with his death. When his feelings surfaced I teared up. Yet I didn't feel overwhelmed with emotion. I felt like I should feel more with Travis' story. I also thought the romance would be one of the central story lines that I would enjoy. I love any romance in a book. I love gushing over the main character and their love interests conversations. I liked Harper, but I didn't feel anything for her relationship with Travis. I actually did not understand it at all. I would have never straight away wanted to be with a guy who ruined my life. And he acted very nonchalant about it which annoyed me. They didn't make any sense to me. I just didn't connect with Travis or his romance with Harper. I don't really understand why this is liked so much to be honest, but it is so you might want to check out some other reviews before you decide you want to read Something Like Normal. You might have a completely different experience than me. ( )
  AdrianaGarcia | Jul 10, 2018 |

It's a compassionate, even occasionally funny, account of a young Marine arriving home from military service in Afghanistan to find that his girlfriend has stolen his brother (at least, I read it that way round), his parents' marriage is disintegrating, and his own PTSD is ever more difficult to ignore. It's all in the present tense, which adds to the sense of the narrator trying to make sense of his life as it develops. There are no easy answers, but the journey to find them is interesting if tough. The happy ending is fairly well signalled in advance, but I actually found that rather satisfying. ( )
  nwhyte | May 21, 2018 |
i started it and i almost got through the first half but i just found it so boring i felt like i was reading it out of obligation i thought it was going to be interesting and i liked the main character but i wanted something to happen. i did not like it. ( )
  Banoczi_Henrietta | Jun 19, 2017 |
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 |
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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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