March 9, 2013

Review: Something Like Normal by Trish Dollar

Something Like Normal
Something Like Normal

About the Book:

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.

My Thoughts:

I should start off by saying that this one has quite a bit of bad language in it. In fact, normally that would be a turn off for me, especially as there's a significant one used on the first page. But for whatever reason, I kept reading and I'm glad I did! Travis is a wounded man, maybe not physically, but most certainly mentally and emotionally. Watching his struggle is not very easy, you can truly feel the pain and confusion he's dealing with on a daily basis.  I think that's where Ms. Dollar hooked me in, Travis' vulnerability. He covers it up with a lot of talk and bluster, but it's still there underneath. His mother is one person who he allows to see it and I really loved their relationship. It has it's ups and downs, but their care for one another was lovely. Maybe not always handled in the best way of course, but lovely nonetheless. Getting your mother drunk? Definitely not a good idea. Travis does make a lot of mistakes. He's human and he's dealing with some huge things right now. Death is never easy to accept and when it's the death of a close friend who you watched die right in front of you, that pretty well seals the deal on hard to handle. Regardless of his refusal to deal with his pain, Travis is very much a gentleman. Well. Mostly. He does do a few things that are far from gentlemanly, but his care of his mom and how he treats all the adults (apart from his dad that is) is very nice. I'm guessing part of it is what was drilled into him during boot camp but I'd like to think he would be a nice guy anyway. Because he is a nice guy. Oh he does some not nice things, but eventually apologizes and tries to make up for his mistakes. Especially with Harper. I loved her! She knew who she was and wasn't afraid to show it. Her first meeting with Travis didn't go well, but this second one she absolutely came out the winner! Their relationship is a lot of fun and Harper is exactly what Travis needs right now. Giving him understanding and just the right amount of coddling as well as the right amount of space. They are so good for each other.

This book is a raw and intense read! Travis' problems are hard and not easily fixed, so it doesn't end with everything all hunky-dory. But Ms. Dollar does an exceptional job in getting into the head of a marine just coming from combat. After all that I've read about veterans and what they go through once they come home, this story was a great look into what some of them have to deal with! It seemed to me like she had done amazing research and translated it into this intriguing story. Very well done!

A Passage For You:
"Charlie?" I take a step toward him and this weird sort of happiness fizzes up inside me like a soda bottle, because if my best friend is here in Florida, it means he's not-
"Travis?" my mom says. "Who are you talking to?"
My stomach churns and my eyes go hot with tears that never seem to come. Charlie can't possibly be in Fort Myers because he was killed in Afghanistan and I'm standing in the middle of a crowded baggage claim talking out loud-to an empty space. And all the happy just leaks right out, leaving me empty again."

Toodle-loo kangaroos!


  1. Thanks for this book review. I think that if I would've seen this book at the library I wouldn't even bother to pick it up because of the cover and the "bad word" on the first page. But I'm judging the book by its cover, rather then its contents. Is amazing that you can find little bits of loveliness in the most unexpected places :) :)

    1. It is amazing where you can find little bits of loveliness in the most unexpected places.

      So true. :) It really was a very interesting book and well written in my opinion. But it is extremely easy to judge based on covers and such. I can definitely admit that. :)

  2. I don't mind the bad language as long as it makes sense and it's not used just for shock value - God knows I curse a lot inside of my head.
    I'm glad you stuck to the story, I've been meaning to read this one for a while. :)

    1. It's a great story Alex! A real and intense look at what these veterans go through. I really can't imagine what they deal with. Read it when you get a chance! Definitely worth it. :)

  3. This is a book that has made me curious for a while now. Given the language I may have to re-think it BUT then again, if the end result is worth it, I may still read it sometime.

    Thanks, Kara!

    1. Rissi, the language isn't something I enjoy at all. And normally I avoid these kind of books, but perhaps being sick made me keep reading. I don't know, but I did enjoy it! It is quite an interesting look at what the war veterans go through, for that reason it kept my attention. I cannot fathom how soldiers deal with all they go through. I appreciated that the story felt very real and true to life in that respect.

      Thanks for commenting! :)


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