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.
Sometimes the blogosphere likes to torture me. Other reviews will rave and rave about a book that is not out for months. Something Like Normal was one of those books, and I am here to tell you that is out now, and that you need to buy a copy. Today.
Something Like Normal is the story of Travis, a marine who has recently returned from Afghanistan and is trying to put his life back together. In addition to losing his car and girlfriend to his brother, Travis is trying to cope with his jerkface father and the death of fellow marine, Charlie. Plus, he has the complication of Harper, a girl whose life he once screwed up.
Travis is not a stereotpyically lovable character. He’s realistic. He makes mistake and is far from perfect. However, that’s exactly why I was enamored with him and his story. Doller also doesn’t shy away from the gritty details. Travis talks about why living and fighting in Afghanistan sucks, and how hard it’s been for him to lose Charlie.
When I think back on Something Like Normal, one thing that stands out to me is the atmosphere. I could perfectly picture so many of the settings Doller described. I’m only surprised more reviews haven’t touched on this subject.
Something Like Normal is a gritty book, and as a librarian, I feel like I should be the one to say this: parents are going to try to ban it. Travis talks a lot about sex, makes sexist jokes, and drinks. However, there are plenty of real guys like this, and they deserve to see characters like themselves in books. I’d say this one is not only a book that belongs on library shelves, but also one you need to read ASAP.
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.