Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: Something Like Normal, by Trish Doller @TrishDoller

Something Like Normal is a romantic contemporary, written for today's teens. Many of our teens are dealing with friends' and family members' deployments to the Middle East, and that element makes this book especially appealing.

Travis returns home after a year in Afghanistan, and it seems like nothing is the same. His parents are on the verge of a divorce and his girlfriend sent him a "Dear John" letter, explaining that she is now dating Travis' brother. No one seems to understand what Travis has been through, and Travis doesn't really want to help them understand.

Travis meets another girl, Harper, who has her own problems, and this is where the romance part of the book begins. There's a very rocky start to this one, since Travis is responsible for Harper's less-than-stellar reputation.

There's not much surprising in Something Like Normal, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The plot is fairly predictable but very realistic. Travis' PTSD symptoms and reactions to life back in civilization seemed very real to me (given that I'm no expert.) The banter and slow development of his relationship with Harper was sweet and believable. I really enjoyed Travis' relationship with his mother. This is where you can see a lot of his maturation during his year away.

When some of Travis' Marine buddies come to visit not only were they humorous, their relationship also seemed genuine. My absolute biggest praise of Something Like Normal is for the ending. There's no quick fix here. Travis has some disturbing emotional issues and they aren't going to go away any time soon. Maybe never. There's hope, but Doller makes it clear that we really can't be sure what Travis' future will be (hence, the title of the book!)

Published by Bloomsbury USA, June 19, 2012
Copy obtained from NetGalley
224 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5

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