Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
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 usually save the buy-this-NOW line till the end of the review, but this is just too good a book to not throw it at you now.
Hands down, one of the best, most authentic YA novels I’ve read this year and well, EVER.
It isn't often that I come across a book that makes me feel SO MANY THINGS (all good, by the way), so when it happens, it's always difficult for me to express oh, so eloquently. So bear with me while I fangirl all over this post.
After a year with the marines, Travis has to come back home to his ex-girlfriend hooking up with his younger brother, his parents’ marriage falling apart, while also coming to terms with his best friend’s death.
And of course, there’s the girl. A girl he can’t seem to stop thinking about and running into, who also just so happens to be the same girl whose reputation he single-handedly ruined.
Talk about drama.
There aren’t many stories--particularly in YA--that deal with being in the military, especially from the main character’s perspective, so Something Like Normal stood out to me straight away.
For me, it really gave an honest, raw look at not only the issues and problems that arise in this lifestyle, but the emotional and psychological effects of what one in the military can experience.
Saying I have the utmost respect for those serving our country, doesn’t even begin to cover it, but it’s nice to see that underneath the layers of bravery and heroism, there’s just another person that has hopes, dreams, fears, problems, fights and dirty jokes to tell just like the rest of us.
Also, kudos to Doller for her spot-on male voices. As someone whose grown up with two brothers and their best friends, I’m (unfortunately) pretty fluent in boy speak. Most often, authors that attempt narrating from a male perspective fall short and end up sounding like a sixteen year-old girl that has a serious passion for the words “dude” and “bro”. Thankfully, this was definitely not the case in SLN. The dialogue between Travis and his friends took me back to high school and my brother’s baseball games where I had the pleasure of sitting right next to the dug out (don’t do it. EVER!). Wherever and however Trish learned the unpleasant (but oh, so hilarious, I’ll admit) language of boys, she has it down and captures it perfectly.
Joining the ranks of my favorite realistic contemporary authors, Trish Doller has placed herself on my MUST-BUY-EVERYTHING-THIS-AUTHOR-WRITES list. She is a true standout among debuts, and an amazing talent I cannot wait to see (or um, read) more of!
Something Like Normal will be released June 19th, and HIGHLY recommend it be put on your summer reading list!