Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Public library

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked: 

Recently, all I have been wanting to read is contemporary novels. My favorite genre is fantasy, and then perhaps paranormal and science fiction. But it is books like this one that makes me love contemporary over and over.

The only other book that I have read that had to do with the United States military is If I Lie by Corrine Jackson. While If I Lie did not deal with a soldier's experience with war, Something Like Normal did (I am not comparing the two, I promise! Just making a connection).

I loved that this book was written entirely in Travis' point of view. I loved seeing what was going on inside of his head - the mind of a broken Marine, a lost son, and a man who lost his best friend. Travis' life is so complicated, on all ends, and his reactions to each situation placed in front of him is intense and real. While I disliked him for what I did with Paige, I sort of understand. But I still disliked him for that.

I loved his dynamic relationship with Harper, even if it was a little rushed at the beginning. Harper is an amazing young adult. I think she is one of the strongest and most assertive heroines I have encountered in contemporary novels. She is not overly sassy or catty, but she stands up for herself and does not let Travis control her (not that he would, from my view).

Overall, I loved getting a view inside a Marine's head, after combat. It made this book so powerful, so real, and so effective at making readers realize what the Marines do for us.

What I Did Not Like: 

As I mentioned before, I did not really like Travis' dalliances with Paige. I understand, but it still is not okay. I did like when things came to light, how Travis handled that with Harper. No excuses.

That was one of my favorite parts of the book. And, as I said before, I felt like Travis and Harper's relationship was a little rushed in the beginning (like, from them meeting again at the party, to them kissing). You knew that was coming, so it is not a spoiler (I hope...).

Would I Recommend It: 

To all contemporary lovers out there, this is definitely a book you do not want to pass up on. It is very short, and totally worth it.


4 stars. What a great debut! I look forward to more of Doller's books.

Author Blog | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. While I mostly read UF & PR, I do like like to read contemporary romance as a palate cleanser.

    1. I agree! I used to dislike contemporary novels, but in the past few months, contemporary novels have dominated my revews and shelves.

  2. I'm completely the same way--for the longest time I basically only read YA paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi and never touched a contemporary, but after just happening upon My Life Next Door and Wanderlove last year, I realized how much I missed the genre and now I'm practically addicted! Especially with all the "new adult" contemporary coming out now, I can't stop reading contemporary!
    And I totally agree with you about Something Like Normal. It was so interesting to see a soldier dealing with PTSD and guilt after coming home from war. My biggest issue was also the rushed romance. Normally I hate authors for dragging out the build-up of a romance, but in this case I was kind of disappointed by how quickly we were thrown into it (the book was on the shorter side, granted, but it still felt rushed). And the other real problem I had with it was your issue, too: Travis falling back into his relationship with Paige. It makes sense in a way, but I still wanted to throw the book across the room every time she showed up, because I knew what was inevitably going to follow. Overall, though, it was a quick but really good read.

    1. WOW! Great comments, Christine! I am currently reading My Life Next Door (fantastic), and I have to pick up Wanderlove again (I checked it from the public library abou a year ago, when it first came out, and wasn't in my contemporary swing yet, so I didn't read more than one chapter). Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Awesome review. I thought, by looking in the cover of the book that it will be another problematic teenager in love, but reading your review, it will a worthy read. Thanks for posting this.

    1. It definitely is a worthy read! Hope you enjoy it if you read it :)

  4. This one sounds good to me. I love military or ex-military heroes so I'd like to give it a try. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Then this is a good fit for you! My pleasure :D


I love comments! I will always try and reply to your comments, as well as leave some comment love on your blog! :)

Also, this an award and tag free blog. While I am flattered that you would think of me, I really do not have the time to follow up. Thank you!