Author: Trish Doller
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
ARC from publisher via Netgalley
Every once in awhile, I'll read a book that's so damn good, I wish I'd written it. Last year, that book was Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. This year, it's Something Like Normal by Trish Doller.
Something Like Normal centers on Travis, a 19-year-old Marine who's on leave from a tour in Afghanistan. He comes home to Florida to face a family that's falling apart, a girl who hates his guts, and post-traumatic stress from the ambush that killed his best friend.
Travis has a voice that's dead-on for a young guy who has lived through more than his years should allow. He's sarcastic, mad, sad, and as funny as hell. He's tries to do the right thing, but doesn't always succeed. He's one of the most well-rounded male characters I've read in YA literature.
It's a shame that the cover makes it seem as though it's a romance, but the romance is really the B story here. Harper is the girl who hates his guts, a girl Travis wronged back in middle school. Travis finally realized what a douchebag he was and tries to make amends. Their relationship plays out realistically and you're rooting for them to get together.
But the main story, the real story, is Travis dealing with life after so much death.
This is a book that librarians and teachers should put (forcibly, if necessary) into the hands of young men to read. So convince your male readers that it's not a girly book, that there's stuff about war and anger and fear. About what it means to be a man, what honor means, and what normal really means.
I would recommend this to readers who enjoyed Blankets by Craig Thompson or Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard.