cover image Something Like Normal

Something Like Normal

Trish Doller. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-59990-844-1

Doller debuts with a timely novel that carves new ground out of the saturated teen romance and post-war trauma genres. Travis is home in southwest Florida, on leave from Afghanistan and dealing with the death of his best friend and fellow soldier Charlie, the breakup of his parents' marriage, and his girlfriend having left him for his brother. While processing all of this, he meets Harper, a girl whose reputation he destroyed years ago, and the two slowly start to connect. Travis's attempt to overcome his guilt and grief over losing his friend lends dimension to what is an otherwise simple love story. External roadblocks (notably Travis's ex, Paige, who is as intent on infidelity now as she was when they were dating) threaten Travis's and Harper's romance, but Travis's struggle to understand the ways in which the war has transformed him and how to ask for help offers the most tension. Doller avoids politicization of the war, and she addresses post-traumatic stress disorder with honesty and a light touch, making Travis's experience both personal and relatable. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. Agent: Kate Schafer Testerman, kt literary. (June).