Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Review: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Pages: 224
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: June 19, 2012
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."
Travis is a marine and has spent time in Afghanistan. Like many soldiers, he comes back from war with many haunting memories, especially since he best friend died over there.  That is something that will haunt him for a very long time.  When he returns, he finds that his parents' relationship isn't good and his brother stole his girlfriend, his car, and even hangs out with his friends.   It's all surreal and he is having a hard time assimilating, that is until he runs into Harper, a girl that he shares a complex past with.  They start to spend more time together and Travis comes to find that she is everything he needs and more.  Trish Doller's debut, Something Like Normal, is a captivating tale that examines post-traumatic stress disorder and the challenges that many soldiers face returning home from war.

One thing that I adored about Something Like Normal was the fact that it is told from Travis's point of view.  Doller did a great job bringing Travis to life and I thought it was 100% believable.  I haven't read many young adult novels with a male point of view (written by a female) that are entirely believable, but Doller pulls it off quite well.  I also adored the character of Travis.  Although he frustrated me with his choices from time to time, I really liked him, his sense of humor and his charm.  I also liked that he was a complex character and had an interesting backstory, especially when it comes to confronting his memories of the war.

Travis's relationship with Harper blossomed slowly and I really liked that aspect of it.  She's a fantastic character that is independent, driven, and knows what she wants; however, like Travis, she also has a complex backstory.  There were many rumors spread about her that ruined her reputation and these rumors, ironically, were helped spread by Travis when they were in middle school.  So, obviously, when they first encountered each other after he returned from war, it wasn't "love at first sight."

In Something Like Normal, Doller writes an interesting tale that deals with real-life issues, which I found to be a fresh breath of air after reading so many fluffy young adult contemporary novels. I like contemporary novels that have this realistic aspect to them, but aren't too preachy or depressing, and Doller does an outstanding job finding the right balance. I can't wait to read her work in the future as she is definitely a new-to-me author now on my radar.

9 comments:

  1. Oh, I love that you point out that this book has substance, Christina! You know that's what I look for in contemporary fiction, and I'm so glad to finally put this one on my TBR now. Lovely review, girl :)

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    1. I think you'd really like this one. Thanks for visiting, Melissa!

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  2. This sounds like a fantastic story Christina, and I love that Travis's voice is authentic. I love getting a male POV:) I'm excited by the fact that there's obviously no insta-love given the rumors Travis helped to spread, and I want to buy this immediately so I can see the two of them slowly build a relationship. Can't wait!

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    1. The male POV is definitely a fresh breath of air -- Doller does a great job portraying a guy as well. I hope you get to read this one soon. Thanks for visiting, Jenny and congrats again on your exciting news!

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  3. I loved Where the Stars Still Shine and I definitely want to give this one a try. I like that it examines PTSD and features a believable male protagonist.

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    1. I really want to read Where the Stars Still Shine now that I have read this one! I think you would like this and the male POV is done really well. Thanks for visiting, Christina.

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  4. I've seen this one around, of course, but something about the synopsis just doesn't appeal to me. I do love my contemporary fiction to be grounded (although I love the fluff, too). I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I've heard good things about Where the Stars Still Shine. I might give that one a shot. Great review!

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    1. I've heard great things about her Stars Still Shine--definitely want to check out that one as well. You will have to let m know what you think if you read it! Thanks for visiting, Natalie!

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  5. I agree about Travis's voice being 100% believable - I remember being amazed by how authentic he sounded. I'm glad to see that you enjoyed SLN! WtSSS is a great, emotional story too.

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I really appreciate your comments. Thank you!

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