Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Something Like Normal

Date Read: January 28 2013
Release Date: June 19th 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Bought
Genre: Contemporary
My rating: 

“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.”


“But my imagination wraps itself in this quilt of horror whenever I sleep.”

It’s not often that I read books from a male perspective. Maybe I’m not reading enough books but I think most first person young adult novels are from a female’s point of view? The only first person male POV YA’s I’ve read are Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover and Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Knight. Those two were essentially from a series that were originally from a female POV too. Thus I was really interested in Something Like Normal as it’s told completely from 19-year-old Travis’ point of view. The challenge for writing from the POV of a guy is not being overly emotional yet at the same time displaying just enough feelings to show what they’re really experiencing deep inside. And Trish pulled that off extremely well!
Travis comes home after a year in Afghanistan to find that his life as he knew it, no longer exists. His family is falling apart, his brother stole his car and girlfriend (actually Paige, that skank is no real loss in my opinion), and friends just aren’t the same after a year away at war seeing things only a soldier does.

“He’s enveloped in a cloud of dust. The bomb, hidden in the case of a tree, sprays him with shrapnel.”

At first I wasn’t sure I liked Travis’ voice. His feelings seemed rather detached at first but then I realised he just wasn’t emotional (unlike me and my feels LOL) and he had other things to deal with. I eventually fell in love with how real Travis’ voice was. Trish doesn’t hold back on the military talk or the military experience for that matter. Through Travis’ nightmares, we see the traumatic experience he had in watching his best friend die and the repercussions this has on him psychologically. The memories and descriptions were so raw and unflinching they brought tears to my eyes.

“The world seems to slow around me. I can hear my friends laughing and talking, but I don’t know what they’re saying, and the only thing in focus is that man. The side of his turban is ripped open, the side of his exposed head caked with blood.”

As a person, I thought Travis was a bit of a, and excuse my language, dick. However, I loved how he didn’t make excuses for his actions. He’s messed up and he needed outlets and he made mistakes. But he wasn’t a bad person – deep down he needed to get away from the stifling town and expectations of his father and he just couldn’t catch a break no matter where he went.

Then along comes Harper. I’m sort of meh about her. She was funny and something different (normal?) in Travis’ world where the only thing he looked forward to, was being deployed again. Harper was definitely sweet but from Travis’ POV I thought the romance was a bit flat at times. It sort of just happened and lacked the intensity I was after. But still, there were moments of passion and I liked their relationship – Harper was what Travis needed.

“She shivers in a way that has nothing to do with the temperature, and it pleases me in a way I can’t even explain.”

I thought the pace was perfect. Full of impact yet still managing to be mellow with the events occurring throughout the book, Travis’ challenge of facing his demons was very realistic! Written extremely well, this was such an enjoyable take on the contemporary genre. I laughed, teared up, and smiled at this bittersweet slice of life.

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

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely-- most YA are written from a female perspective. Some books with male perspectives that I've read include Across the Universe trilogy (50/50 male-female POV), Where She Went (Gayle Forman), Just One Year (in advance, Gayle Forman), A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness), Legend/Prodigy (50/50, Marie Lu) and The Cardturner (Louis Sachar). Looking back at these titles, all which I enjoyed, I should try and seek out more books with male POVs.

    I'm glad that you found yourself connecting with Travis' voice eventually. The concept is really good. Yay for adept execution! That second quote is just awesome. It really paints a picture in your mind. Just from those quotes I think I'll like the writing style on this one.

    Thanks for the review, jaz!

    (@cc9309 ;])