28 June 2012

Book Review: 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. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

Review Grade: 4/5

War is only half the battle.

Something Like Normal is one of the novels I had been waiting for – and thank God it had finally arrived. I have to set aside some of my reads to make way for this one. Have I been disappointed? BIG FAT NO!
My first Trish Doller novel and I had a grand time reading it. If I was not that tired and desperate for sleep, I would have finished this in one sitting. It is a short novel but I think everything has been taken care of that the ending didn’t felt that it was cut short or there were conflicts left open. 

I fell in love with Harper. Her character is so refreshing. A regular girl with a pretty courageous, and straightforward attitude. She says what is on her mind and can swing a punch like a pro. She’s pretty hot, intelligent, an environmentalist, and forgiving. She didn’t push when she thinks it was not the right time and what I love most about her is that she is drama queen. All-in-all, she is an awesome girl and any guy would be lucky to have her.

Travis, well, I didn’t like him much at first. He may be a macho marine but he started as a douchebag. I seriously didn’t like what he did to Harper back in middle school. I think it was low, but he was a teenager with his brains probably on his balls. But he started to grow on me as the novel unfolds. Like some soldiers who were sent off to war and had their shares of violence, he went home a different person – more mature, a little less a****le, and scarred. His grief over the death of his close friend was understandable as well as his constant nightmares. It was hard for him to find help at first, but I was glad alittle push from some special people in his life made him finally seek for help. 

Travis’ mom goes overboard in the first chapter. Although I must admit, I like the effort she puts in showing Travis her support. This is what I love best about her. She puts a lot of time in making sure her some gets some care packages often, she sends in some school supplies for the children of Afghanistan when he asked for them, even engaging the help of others for her project. I appreciate the way she reached out to her son – even though Travis was a cranky and tough to handle when he came back home, she never gave up. I like the change that her character has throughout the story. From a doormat, she learned how to fight for what she wants and stood against anyone who don’t respect her. 

I also love Charlie’s mom. I think it was her who helped Travis see reality and finally stopped his denial. She’s calm, wise and weird (but in a nice way). 

The rest of his family? Didn’t like them a bit. I hated his dad, who never got over the fact that he was not a pro player anymore. I hated the way he pushed Travis to do the things that he didn’t really enjoy. When Travis finally gave up the sport – he became non-existent to his father. His brother was also an ass. He stole his girlfriend and his car – and he thinks Travis is still the bad guy! Who else do I hate? Paige. I guess you’ll hate her too. She sent a short and concise Dear John letter to Travis and expects him to win her back from Ryan? Yeah Right. 

The ending? I CRIED! I so love the ending. It shows a lot of heart and I think it was a perfect way to end a fantastic story. 

Trish Doller gave us a vivid peek of what is going on inside a soldier’s mind before, during and after his deployment – what happens to the family that they left behind, what deaths do to you, how violence affect your life and what is it like to feel normal after living in a foreign land away from everyone who is close to you. It takes brave guy to enlist oneself and serve your country but it takes more than a tough guy to survive the ordeals afterwards. 

Favorite Quote
  • “Maybe it’s time to find a new normal.” 

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