Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
- ISBN-13: 9781599908441
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
- Publication date: 6/19/2012
- Pages: 224
- Source: Netgalley
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.
Something Like Normal is about a young man, Travis, who enlisted in the Marines, just three days after his eighteenth birthday. The was running from his father and the fact that Travis has never meet his expectations. Now, a painful year later, Travis is on leave after returning from Afghanistan. He is determined for this to be as normal as possible but he is haunted by the death of his best friend, Charlie, who died in Afghanistan. Travis has vivid nightmares and just does not adjust well to life at home. He find that his ex-girlfriend, Paige, is dating his brother, yet she is determined to sleep with him again. His father is cheating on his mother, yet she does not want to deal with what is going on. She dedicated every moment to either worrying about Travis overseas, putting together care packages, or gathering supplies for the children in Afghanistan, like Travis had suggested. In that process, she stopped paying as much attention to those around her and it has caused a lot of issues. Travis is full of guilt about not responding to his mother’s letters and packages. The problem was he just could not deal with. Shortly after returning, Travis runs into Harper, the girl who’s reputation he ruined when they were just fourteen years old, she put him in his place but Travis is drawn to her. Harper might just be the life line Travis need to being to heal.
I have heard a lot about the transition that soldiers go though as they return to real life after being deployed but I did not really understand what it might be like until reading this book. There are flashbacks and dreams that are in your face and painful, but I can only imagine that it multiplies by a hundred for the person experiencing them. I commend Trish Doller for taking on this topic. I think that there are a lot of teens that find the idea of enlisting a big adventure but may not realize just how much one is changed by seeing war first hand. Most of the news reports and such talk to men and women who are a bit older than the minimum age and I think that it is very important that the teens have an understanding of the reality of military service. By no means am I discouraging serving our country, just that I feel that there should be some better education around what it really means. I met with an Army recruiter when I was a Senior in high school and I can remember things that all he was telling me was about the good things and how I knew deep down that it was not all good. I think to be able to make the best decision, you have to be informed. A story like Something Like Normal would be a great book for a teen who is considering service. It just gives a different side of the story.
I really enjoyed the manner in which Something Like Normal was written. While there were some very raw war scenes, they were balanced well with Travis trying to make his life back in Florida as normal as possible. The dreams were very well defined as well as the idea of Travis seeing Charlie. I also felt that there was great character development and I really connected with not only Travis but Harper as well. There were tears, but I could not put this book down. I read it in one sitting. You should really check this one out.
5 Penguins – A very powerful and emotional ride