Review: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Book Title: Something Like Normal
Author: Trish Doller
Published Date: June 19th, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre: NA Romance
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis 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.

Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from the library.

Review:
Oh my goodness, this book was one of those books that are beautiful in a quiet, understated way.

When we meet Travis, he’s just stepping off the plane from Afghanistan where he’s been for a year. He stepped off the plane right into his mom’s arms. Soon after his return home, he realizes how much things have changed at home. He never felt like he was good enough for his dad, but his dad has always treated his mom with respect. Now his dad is never home and when he is home, they are always fighting. His brother Ryan is now hooking up with his ex, Paige. Travis has no interest in Paige, but being with her still gives him a sense of normalcy.

He’s on leave from the Marines, but he can’t get his best friend out of his head. He sees Charlie everywhere he goes. He hears his voice all the time. At night, things are worse. He’s plagued with nightmares of the day Charlie died. He blames himself for it happening. He wonders why he survived but Charlie didn’t.

Harper was such a pleasant surprise. I loved her. She was sweet, ambitious and she seemed normal. Even the fact that she was abandoned by her mom many years ago didn’t seem to be a big deal. i’m sure it was a big deal to Harper, but she didn’t dwell on it. She was definitely the anti-Paige which was great and definitely what Travis needed.

I adored Travis and Harper together. They brought different things out in each other. They helped each other with changes in their home life. They fell in love slowly, which is something I loved. A slow burn is always more enjoyable to me than a bright blaze from the beginning. Harper was there for Travis when he needed to attend Charlie’s memorial service. Travis was there to support Harper’s dream of studying marine biology.

The only thing I really wanted was more on Harper. I don’t feel like I got to know her as well as I got to know Travis. The character development for Harper was not as strong as the character development for Travis was. That’s the main reason I’m giving this book 4 stars.

Review: My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door #1) by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Book Title: My Life Next Door
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Release Date: June 14th, 2012
Publisher: Dial Books For Young Readers
Genre: YA/Contemporary
Series: Book one in My Life Next Door series
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them. . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

Disclaimer: This book was a personal purchase.

Review:
When I was making my list of books I wanted to buy, this one was at the top of the list. I had heard so many people raving about it over and over again, to the point where I just had to put it on my list and when I was able to make a book purchase, this book would be one of the ones that I would buy.

I did not regret it one little bit. It was a sweet summery read (since it’s still winter, it’s an odd time to read it but oh well) The characters were funny and sweet and totally likable. Despite being 10 years older than Jase, I wanted him as my new boyfriend. But I’ll settle for him being my book boyfriend. He was totally swoony and adorable and just an all around good guy. I loved how close his entire family was. You don’t get to see that very often in YA books. The entire family was close and it was a big family which made it all the better.

With a big family like this, one could worry that it would make it hard for all of the characters to stand out with individual personalities and such. But it wasn’t. Despite the Garretts having 8 kids, I was still able to differentiate all of them.

Samantha on the other hand, had a small family. Just her mom and older sister Tracy. Now she has to deal with her mom’s boyfriend Clay. It’s strange for Samantha because her mom has been single her entire life. So the idea that she has a boyfriend is kind of icky to Samantha. She doesn’t want to picture what her mom does with this guy.

Samantha and Jase were just about the sweetest teenagers ever. Holy moly, they were cute and sweet and basically drama free (outside of keeping their relationship hidden from Samantha’s mom) I felt bad for Samantha though. Jase has what was essentially, the ideal family and Samantha’s was just slapped together and she had a very judgmental mom which would have really driven me crazy. Samantha clearly longed for a mother like Mrs. Garrett.

There were the supplemental characters like Samantha’s best friend Nan & her brother Tim. My thoughts on Nan stayed relatively positive until the end, when my opinion of her started to become more negative. Whereas my thoughts on Tim started off very negative but by the end,my thoughts were quite positive. Even to the point where his transformation was one of my favorite things to watch.
I wasn’t sure what the “unthinkable” thing would be, when I first started the book but it ended up being totally different than anything I could have ever imagined. The behavior of two people in particular was abhorrent to me. However things ended up exactly how they should have.

This book was awesome. I loved the focus on family & friendship that were not shoved to the backseat in favor of a romance. The only thing that I would complain about was that the ending was short and I was kind of hoping for something more. I also didn’t really get emotional while reading the book. So this book will be getting 4 stars. I am so excited to read the next book, which is Tim’s story. I know that is going to be another special book.