Yes. That's really all I can say. Just, yes. This book was everything I was hoping it would be and more. I can't even remember the last time I had such high hopes for a book and it didn't let me down. Something Like Normal is probably the best contemporary novel I've read in quite a long time.
Travis, a member of the United States Marine Corps, comes home from a deployment in Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder after the death of his best friend. He quickly realizes that everything has changed. He doesn't want to be around his group of friends from high-school, the girlfriend that he left behind has dumped him for his younger brother, and his parents don't have the marriage they had before he left. Most importantly, he's grown up, and can't wait to get back to the Marine life he has.
While at a bar one night, he bumps into Harper, a girl he spread rumors about in middle-school. From that point on, his life changes even more, as he slowly falls in love with her.
I don't even know how to begin a review like this. So rarely has a book had this sort of effect on me. My husband was watching one of the Resident Evil movies, and normally, my response would be "yay, zombies!" when he asked me to watch it, but I just shook my head and kept reading. I started and finished in less time than it took him to get to the end of the movie. When I had finally flipped the last page, he turned to me and said "are you really crying???" I was, so hard.
The characters in this book were exactly what every contemporary character should be. They had strengths and weaknesses, could be serious and humourous, and were just all-around realistic. Despite the fact that Travis was the main character in the book, he was probably one of the biggest jerks with the way he treated his brother. I was so happy that he made mistakes, and the whole novel didn't consist of him being the perfect person.
The supporting characters were well-fleshed out as well. Moss and Kevlar were two of the best backround characters I've read about since...I couldn't even tell you when. Even Paige, with her amazingly unlikeable personality, was believable.
And then, of course, Charlie. As someone who's lost a best friend (though, admittedly, not in the same fashion as Travis did), Trish Doller NAILED the emotions. The letter that Travis wrote on the last few pages is where I completely lost it and started bawling. I could practically feel the heartbreak Travis was going through.
I feel like if I continue this review, it will turn into a whole separate novel, so I'm going to end this here, although there are so many more aspects I can rave for hours about.
More reviews can be found on my blog, Booktacular