Book Review: Something Like Normal

“Maybe it’s time to find a new normal.” 
― Trish Doller, Something like Normal
Book Title: Something Like Normal
Author: Trish Doller
Publication Date: 2012
Genres: Realistic Fiction, New Adult Fiction, Military Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 3.85 Stars 
My Rating: 4.25 Stars

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.

1. This book surprised me. Seriously. The cover is this novel is awful and something I would never pick up. Plus, I’m not a huge military fan, as far as novels go. It’s usually hard for me to relate to the characters. So I have no idea how this novel ended up being on my To-Read list on Goodreads, but I’m glad it was. The novel surprised me with it’s depth, style of writing, and characterization. I was drawn into the story, not because of the plot (!!), but because Travis is such a compelling character. He is constantly struggling with his instincts, his recovery, and his want to be a better person. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by the novel.

2. This novel presented a new way of looking at PTSD. PTSD is an illness that I have had trouble truly understanding. The brain is kind of mysterious and crazy, and mental illness is something I have developed a slight fascination with. (I mean, everyone has a bit of crazy in them, right?) The way that PTSD is portrayed in this novel, particularly from a first-person point of view, sheds a new light on the illness, and made me really acknowledge how traumatic and crippling it can be for soldiers (or for people who underwent any extreme amount of stress.)

3. I love Harper Gray. Ok, this girl is kinda perfect. I mean, in a perfect way. She’s a fun sweetheart, and maybe she only exists in the pages of a book, but I’m pretty sure we could be friends.

4. I wanted to keep reading. I have been in a major reading funk lately (due, in most part, to moving and school), and this novel took me right out of that funk. It was serious and entertaining and eye-opening all at once, and I was pretty happy to have found such a great novel in my hands.

“He was the person all of us should be, but most of us aren’t. And if I could have taken his place to buy him a little more time in the world, I’d have done it. I’m sorry I couldn’t.”

“Something I’m not ready to name works itself under the grip of Charlies death and loosens it, and keeps the nightmare at bay when I fall back asleep.”

“I don’t know if my life will ever be completely normal again, but something like normal is a good start.”

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