if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

People are already falling in love with Travis

somethinglikenormal_jkt_001The first reviews are coming in for Trish Doller‘s amazing debut Something Like Normal, which Bloomsbury will publish in June. First, a glorious blurb from the lovely Lauren Myracle, who says,

Amazing. You will smile and sob and when you finish, you will walk away a better you. READ THIS BOOK NOW.

Then, from Kirkus:

An affecting look at the experience of one teen soldier’s experience on leave from Afghanistan.

Travis is trying hard to pretend everything is normal, but there’s nothing normal about this little chunk of life at his former home in Florida. His girlfriend is now sleeping with his little brother, a smug, self-interested bastard. His friends don’t understand why he can’t just slide back into his stupid pre-Afghanistan life. His mother worries nonstop. The only thing that’s normal is that his father, an ex–football player who bullied Travis mercilessly into playing the game, still seems to hate his guts. At least when he was with his unit, they all understood how their shared hellish experience has affected them. An unlikely encounter with Harper, a girl he humiliated in middle school, gives him a sense that, maybe, a normal life might be something he can shoot for. Travis’ present-tense narration puts readers directly into his uneasy psyche; he only gradually reveals to himself as well as readers the extent of the damage he has taken in the desert. If the growing relationship between Travis and Harper seems too good to last and the sudden stiffening of his mother’s spine unlikely, readers will be so invested in Travis’ poor, shattered soul they will forgive narrative convenience.

At its heart, this too-timely novel is purely honest.

And finally, a very nice review from the Horn Book’s upcoming May/June issue:

Travis Stephenson’s life has become a “quilt of horror,” a patchwork of nightmares, hallucinations, and flashbacks after just one year in Afghanistan. He had joined the Marines to escape his disapproving, belittling father, but now the war has followed Travis back home. His parents are splitting up, his girlfriend has dumped him for his brother Ryan, and he’ll always be a “disrespectful little punk” to his father. Doller’s debut novel effectively captures the haunted and hallucinatory feeling of a damaged soldier returning home, a nineteen-year-old who says he’s “having trouble even picturing a future with me in it.” Travis is a likable guide to his personal hell, and the characters in his orbit are well drawn and believable. His voice is strong, even when his belief in himself is not. When Travis reunites with Harper Gray, a girl who has hated him since he started an ugly rumor in middle school that ruined her reputation, he is drawn to her, “all green eyes and tousled hair,” and the tentative relationship that ensues may just ensure some kind of a new normal for Travis. Her support and shy love, including nudging him to see a therapist, may help Travis to feel a bit more whole and stop feeling like a “Travis Stephenson-shaped space that needs to be filled in.”

Trish and I are super excited to introduce Travis to the world this summer, but I’m thrilled to give one lucky reader and early opportunity to meet and fall in love with him.

Trish’s tumblr is filled with gorgeous photos of boys and girls, and couples she’s tagged “Together.” I’d love to help her add to it! Add a link in the comments to an image you think would fit well with the others on her blog, and I’ll pick one to receive a galley of Something Like Normal. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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