I came across this title in the blogosphere before, but I haven’t gotten myself to read it, let alone acquire a copy. Then one day, as I was browsing for new books to read, Something Like Normal caught my attention again and right there I decided to grab a copy immediately.
Here’s the summary of the book:
My parents are splitting up.
My brother has stolen my girlfriend.
(He also stole my car.)
And I’m haunted by the ghost of my best friend.
Then I run into Harper.
(Technically, her fist runs into my face.)
She’s beautiful, smart, funny…
…and she wants nothing to do with the messed-up Marine who ruined her life.
Sometimes the best you can hope for is something like normal.
Sometimes what you get might be even better.
It’s kind of hard to look for this copy at our local bookstores. It took a while for one of the bookstore’s staffs to notify me of its availability. I think I waited for a month and I even included this in my Christmas wish list in case our family ‘Santa Claus’ will be able to find a copy. Because of that, who would’ve thought that I now own two copies of the book: one from the bookstore and the other one given by our ‘Santa Claus’ uncle who immediately ordered the book abroad right after I listed my wish list in our family Facebook group.
Anyway, moving on to the story, Something Like Normal talks about the life of Travis Stephenson during his Marine service in Afghanistan and his extended vacation break after his friend’s death. Since then, he’s been struggling with hunting and troubling nightmares coupled with his break-up with his ex-girlfriend, as well as his relationship with his father.
At a glance, it’s kind of hard to imagine a nineteen-year-old person to encounter all of the conflicts mentioned in the book at the same time, but I’m amazed by how Trish Doller successfully portrayed the situation in the eyes of a teenager and perfectly described how he would react to it. The storyline just flows so naturally that I do not have a hard time looking into Travis’s life and understand what he’s going through. The burden he carries may be a bit heavier than the burdens any other normal teenager would have, but his actions are definitely justified based on his experiences.
The story is set in the present time with flashbacks here and there whenever a certain situation or object reminds him of his past. It is in this case where readers will begin to notice the changes in Travis’s attitude and personality. From being the immature boy that he was, Travis grows to become more mature, confident, and independent with an open mind and a new perspective in life throughout his time as a Marine. This character development is also made possible with the help of other characters, especially his family, Harper, his friends, and even Paige.
One of the things I like about this book is that it does not limit itself to Travis’s relationship with Harper. It is not entirely a pure love story as the book also explores and elaborates his relationship with his parents and Marine troops. Secondly, being a Nicholas Sparks fan, I like how his work is incorporated into the story. If you’re familiar with Dear John, then you would understand. And lastly, this book got me hooked immediately. Moreover, it unexpectedly captured my heart. I won’t deny that I almost cried at one part of the story. I have to actually stop myself from tearing up while on the airplane as people might see me (hihi!).
All in all, this is one heck of a book to read. I undeniably enjoyed it. This book may be a light read, but the effect it has on me makes it worth-reading. The pacing is good and the way the author writes the story pushes the readers to keep reading, root for the characters, and feel giddy on the sweet things. This will definitely not be the end of reading Trish Doller’s works. Something Like Normal offers a story that makes normal look fun and extraordinary.