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Something Like Normal Hardcover – June 19, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-Travis Stephenson is back home in Florida, on leave from Afghanistan where he has been serving on active duty as a U.S. Marine. The war has changed him, and upon his return, he is overwhelmed by his hometown, his friends, and his family. His ex-girlfriend is now dating his brother, his parents are splitting up because his dad is having an affair, and he's haunted by nightmares and hallucinations. When he reconnects with Harper Gray, a girl he spread a rumor about in middle school, he finds relief from his anxieties. During his leave, Travis must come to terms with his best friend's death during combat and realize that his flashbacks and visions are not part of the standard post-combat experience and that he needs professional help. By the end of the novel, he finds the strength to speak at Charlie's memorial. The romance and tight narrative make this a dynamo of a soldier's story.-Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, ILα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

About the Author

TRISH DOLLER has worked as a newspaper reporter and radio personality and is now a bookseller. She lives in Ft Myers, Florida with her husband, two dogs, and two mostly grown children. Also, Trish has about a dozen Marines she'd like to adopt.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599908441
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599908441
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #943,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I've been a writer as long as I've been able to write, but I didn't make a conscious decision to "be" a writer until fairly recently. For that you should probably be thankful.

I was born in Germany, grew up in Ohio, went to college at Ohio State University, got married to someone really great, bounced from Maine to Michigan and back to Ohio for awhile. Now I live in Florida with my two mostly grown kids, two dogs, and a pirate. For real.

I've worked as a morning radio personality, a newspaper reporter, and spent all my summers in college working at an amusement park. There I gained valuable life skills, including counting money really fast, directing traffic, jumping off a moving train, and making cheese-on-a-stick. Also, I can still welcome you to Frontier Town. Ask me sometime.

These days I work as a bookseller. And I write.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Brandi Breathes Books on July 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you've ever wanted a taste of life as a soldier, you can find it in this gritty, touching and romantic book by Trish Doller.
Travis has his faults, but he is such a great narrator and it was quite a journey being in his head, living out his story with him. I got so lost in what he was going through--from his memories of Charlie (his dead best friend), his frustrations with his parents, his nightmares and triggers to the story with Harper. Speaking of, she is such a great girl. Their story from middle school is rough, and I hope that it can get across the message to others that it did for me. Lies of omission can still hurt, and labels that get put on you or because of you doesn't go away as easily as one might think. But I am glad that they could overcome that because I love how their friendship progresses and what happens to them. Harper also lightened the mood a lot with her remarks. She added a whole other dimension though with how she rolled with the punches (and sometimes doled them out) and how she responded to Travis.
Another character that I adored was Charlie's mom. We didn't get much of her, but what we saw was nice.
The dynamics between Travis and his parents felt authentic to me. His mom was behind him, making support packages and joining military mom's groups. She had this feeling of familiarity to me, which is a good thing. Watching her character change and evolve in here made me smile, and seeing it through Travis' eyes made it all the better. Travis and his dad had a rocky relationship and I think that its portrayed well in the present although we do get some peeks at what got them to that point.
Trish Doller has a nack for writing emotions. I was moved by the story and his flashbacks of what happened in Afghanistan as well as the guilt he carried with him. There are so many layers to this book, and it kept my attention the whole way through.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa on January 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I was so excited to read Something like Normal by Trish Doller. It has been on my To Read list since the summer and finally decided to read it. I had high hopes for this book and when finished I felt disappointed. I think the idea of the book had amazing potential.

Nineteen year-old Marine, Travis coming home from war in Afghanistan to a brother who stole his girlfriend, a father who is a major prick, and a mother who is a little lost herself. Plus Travis is dealing with the death of his best friend who he blames himself for his death while at war. Travis meets Harper, the complete opposite of his ex girlfriend. Harper is sweet, innocent, and is there for Travis when he needs someone the most. Sounds like it could be an amazing book right? I thought so too... a marine coming home could be a wonderful story women could relate to whether they are coming home or their boyfriends/husbands coming home from war. A lost boy finding solace with a sweet girl helping him grieve with what he has been through. But the story felt short of its potential and lost its opportunity to be an amazing book.

Something Like Normal is an extremely fast read all in the POV of Travis. I read it within 3 hours and I think that is where the problem lies. With such a quick read you miss out on great scenes and an emotional pull to the characters and story. I really wanted to get to know Harper more and Travis the main characters more. I didn't feel connected to them at all or their romantic story at all. I couldn't stand Travis' brother or father, even his ex girlfriend I couldn't stand. I wish the ending had more closure and didn't wrap up so quickly- I hate when books do that!
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