Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

I just came home from Afghanistan.
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 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

can be even better.


It's not everyday that I come across a YA book told from a male's perspective, so I grabbed a copy of Something Like Normal as soon as I could. Add that to the fact that the MC is a war veteran returning home from deployment for the first time, and suffice to say that I was hooked from the blurb alone. However, I would be lying if I said I didn't have any misgivings - I've read a few YA books in the past which were told through male POVs, and they were all horribly inauthentic. It never felt like I was viewing things from the male MC's perspective - rather, it felt like I was reading from the author's perspective, while she desperately attempted to try to sound male. I don't run across that problem while reading Something Like Normal, though. I never felt like I was reading anyone but Travis' thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. His voice was so realistic, and was truly authentic through and through.

What I liked the most about Something Like Normal was the character of Travis - not even once was he painted as someone who was perfect and had no flaws just because he was a Marine and inadvertently an American hero. He was flawed like any other human being, and he had many things to deal with after returning home. He didn't have the best relationship with his father before his deployment, he wasn't able to maintain a good relationship with his mother while deployed, his brother and ex-girlfriend both cheated on him while he was away, and he also had to deal with the fact that his best friend, Charlie, died beside him while on duty.  Furthermore, in the face of all his problems, Travis had to convince himself that life went on despite Charlie's death.

Doller didn't gloss over Travis' problems, or how he dealt with them, upon coming home. I was privy to numerous heart-wrenching scenes as Travis attempted to untangle the mess that was his life through both good and bad decisions, and like any other person, Travis had to suffer the consequences of every decision he made. Every interaction Travis had with the members of his family, his ex-girlfriend, the friends he left behind, Harper, and his fellow marines only had me learn more about Travis as a person, and at the same time realize just how much of a relatable character he is.

I also loved how Travis and Harper's relationship was portrayed - no insta-love of any kind (seriously, insta-love should be banned from all YA books), since Travis had to gain Harper's trust and forgiveness after haphazardly starting a rumor in the past that changed how people perceived Harper. Their relationship was sweet yet cautious on both sides, and I loved how it was through their friendship that romance blossomed. Their relationship wasn't without challenges though, and how both Travis and Harper dealt with their problems was realistic and emotional, to say the least.

Overall, Something Like Normal was an amazing read. I finished it in one sitting, and Travis' character stayed with me well after finishing. The last chapter of this book is one of the most memorable chapters I have ever read, and I applaud Trish Doller for penning a masterpiece.

Rating: 5 Stars


  1. I do this thing on my blog called, "I Hate This Cover of the Month". And this was the "winner" one month. I just put it out of my mind once I saw the cover- I thought it was a teen romance type book. I didn't realize what it was really about until bloggers started posting about it- then I really wanted to read it. I did like it once I read it. After I posted my book on GR, the author emailed me and thanked me for giving her book a chance. A very nice lady (Trish Doller). I just wanted to mention that that the author is very nice and gracious considering all of the author meltdowns this year.

    1. I get what you mean about the cover - it does nothing for the book! Thank god for the blurb though.
      Wow. That's a great story! Kudos to Trish Doller. On another note, I'm really happy that you gave the book a chance and ended up liking it. It's one of my favorite books of the year so far. :)

  2. I've heard nothing but good things about Something Like Normal and it's only a matter of time before I'm sure I'll be buying a copy in the future. Because of the low page count, I'm probably going to wait until it's out in the paperback. Thanks so much for the review! Everything you mentioned about the book is something I'm sure I would fall in love with as well. It sounds like it's a contemporary novel that will leave me in tears...

    Liz @ Midnight Bloom Reads

  3. I took a chance on this book, even though it is completely removed from the norm for me, and I am SO glad that I did. I loved this book, and the main reason was the same for me as you. Travis. What a wonderful character he is! I loved him. The whole story was strong and emotional. I was never bored. I read this in an hour. Great story, and I loved reading your review!


I looooove reading comments, so do know that I read every single one of them. Also, if you're a new follower, let me know so I can check out your blog!