Release Date: June 19, 2012
Summary from Amazon.com: 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.
I absolutely loved this book. I’ve been lucky to read some really great standalone contemporary novels recently, and Something Like Normal is among the best of them. The book is an excellent, emotional story with strong character development and a sweet romance.
Travis, a U.S. Marine, comes home on leave from Afghanistan and is suffering from Post-Tramautic Stress Disorder. He is haunted by hallucinations of his best friend Charlie, who died during service, and he finds that he can't go back to the life he had before joining the Marines because both he and his family have changed.
I loved that this book was from the point of view of Travis because male narrators are rare in YA books and his “voice” sounded very genuine. This story was often heartbreaking because we feel all of Travis’s emotions—anger, loss, and guilt—and also witness flashbacks to his time in Afghanistan.
The developing romance between Harper and Travis was wonderful, and all of their interactions made me smile. I liked how Harper was wary of Travis (no instant love here because they have a little bit of a history), but Travis was so clearly interested in Harper. I’m glad that Harper was such an awesome female character with a backbone.
The cover might suggest that this book is fluffy, but it really wasn’t. Something Like Normal had depth with well-developed characters who I continued to think about after finishing the story. The story is short, but very fulfilling. I flew through the book, but I want to re-read it more slowly the next time around to give me more time to process it. I would definitely recommend adding this book to your summer reading pile!