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.
So when I read the summary of this book, my brain kind of flipped out. It felt NEW and INTERESTING and I KNEW I hadn’t read anything like this before. All of this happened before I even opened the book.
By about page 6, it was one of those ‘SLEEP WHO NEEDS SLEEP?! THERE IS BOOK TO BE HAD NOW’ moments. Why? Travis Stephenson. Not only is he INSTANTLY likeable, he is a fully screwed-up, but completely decent man. And God help me, I love my Broken Boys. And not only is he a Broken Boy, but there is that Buddy/ Brotherhood theme. In summation, Trish Doller was out to kill me with boys.
Oh, then there’s Harper Gray. Not often do I develop small girl crushes, but when a girl punches a Marine in the face for something that happened when they were 13, you’re at risk for falling in love. (Side note: I tweeted something to that effect while reading and Ms. Doller favorited that tweet. Honor, guys, I felt it.) She is the perfect combination of kick ass and feminine.
Now I won’t go into specifics (because it happens really far into the book - personally, I wouldn’t exactly call it a spoiler, but hey, I respect people’s right to read a review and not be spoiled in the slightest) but this book made me on the verge tears. Three times. Three! Guys, I have a heart of stone. I never cry. So verge of tears three times is a major accomplishment. And for me, it wasn’t just the isolated situation, it was the connection to the real world that made it so tragic. This is our reality right now. Where 19-year-old boys are blown to bits and their beautiful little lives are severed too soon.
The worst thing about this book was that it ended! Or at least be longer. My little ARC was barely 230 pages! It could be like, three times that and I would have devoured it just the same. I think it just means I will have to stalk Trish Doller’s career and (im)patiently wait for more books with sexypants boys. Though, might I throw out a really good suggestion? Something Like Normal: The Harper Grey Story? Eh? Cause this story from her POV would be KILLER! She’s so strong and awesome it couldn’t NOT be amazing. Online petition for this? I think so...
Last note: that COVER, guys! Damn sexy. Grab those dog tags, Harper!
Something Like Normal by Trish Doller was published on June 19, 2012 by Bloomsbury. You can find Trish online on Twitter or her website. Also, be sure to buy the book from Amazon or IndieBound!
If you liked Something Like Normal, you might also like Saving June by Hannah Harrington or Stick by Andrew Smith.