Published by: Bloomsbury USA Childrens on June 19, 2012
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
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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.
Something Like Normal is such a sweet, tender, heartbreaking, uncertain story. I love how it deals with so many imperfections.
Travis is a great character, but he’s not perfect. He’s made some bad choices, he has difficulty accepting the loss of his marine friend, he doesn’t always say or do the right thing, but he has such a great heart. That kind of sounds lame, but it’s true. He’s one of those guys who’s just kind through and through. He’s not perfect, but you know he means well and he really doesn’t want to disappoint people. He’s still kind of learning how to be a good guy, but he makes it there eventually. 😉
I really liked how the male and female roles were reversed in Something Like Normal. I feel like it’s usually the girl who’s a weak, emotional wreck, and then the strong guy flies in to “rescue” her, but in Something Like Normal it was the other way around. Travis is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is a bit of an emotional wreck, even though he tries not to show it. Harper is a really strong, stable girl and she kind of “saves” him. It’s the first real, meaningful relationship Travis has ever been in, and it really gives him an anchor in his life.
I think the main way that Something Like Normal could have improved was in length. At only 214 pages, this book is really short—too short, I think. I think the book was too short to fully develop the emotional roller coaster side of the story. I thought this book was going to be completely gutting and heart-wrenching, and while it did have that potential, I never quite got to that stage. I think it’s because the book moves too quickly. Travis and Harper hit it off quickly, but by the end of the book their relationship only feels half developed. I just think there’s so much more that could have been done with it, and perhaps if it was expanded upon even more, I could have had that delicious heartbreak that I was craving.
But even so, I really enjoyed Something Like Normal. It was really refreshing to read from such an insecure male character’s point of view. Travis tries to act strong, but you can see him bursting at the seams and trying to deny that he’s falling apart. Even though it wasn’t as developed as I wanted it to be, his relationship with Harper was really sweet and it’s clear that those two are the perfect match for each other! To be honest, I’m bummed that this book isn’t a series! I’d love to read more!