Author: Trish Doller
Publication: June 19, 2012
By: Bloomsbury Children's
"War is only half the battle."
Thank you to Netgalley & Bloomsbury!
I only meant to "peek" at this but was pulled in and had to read until I finished the entire book which took about 3 hours and then I was crying ALL THE TEARS!
I can't stop talking about this book now! It made me laugh, it made me cry, it broke my heart, it gave me hope and it made me want to do SOMETHING for Marines everywhere.
When nineteen year old Travis returns homes from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, his life plays out like a sad country song. He's lost his girl, lost his car, his parents are getting divorced and his brother Ryan barely speaks to him which is probably because he's the one who stole Travis' girlfriend. (Smooth move dude) Things are strained with his old friends and Travis can't even drown his sorrows at the local bar without getting a black eye. (He totally deserves this punch in the face but, still)
Travis' comeback is also marred by nightmares of his time spent in the desert and the death of his fellow Marine, and BFF, Charlie, for which Travis feels responsible for. It seems like everyone around him expects life to go back to normal but Travis doesn't even know what "normal" feels like anymore. It isn't until he runs into Harper, a girl he's known since middle school, that life begins to look up. The more time they spend together the more Travis realizes, Harper might be the key to helping him find a new normal.
I will admit it took me a few pages to get used to the language but these are Marines so they aren't going to be on their best behavior 24/7. ;) I LOVED Travis and my heart broke for him. He's been through a life changing experience that's left him broken and damaged in ways impossible to understand unless you've lived through it. He's doing the best he can even if that means making a few mistakes along the way.
His family isn't the most supportive which is sad although his Mom is his biggest cheerleader. I wanted to tell his brother Ryan to "Suck it up cupcake!" and his father could use a good punch in the face. Paige, his ex-girlfriend is a word I will not repeat but let's just say, I'm not a fan of hers, OK? And then there's Harper...
Harper is just as much a hero as Travis in my opinion. She too, has fought a battle of her own for years and when she comes face to face with her "enemy", she takes NO.PRISONERS. SEMPER-FI GIRLFRIEND! ;) She shows Travis grace and mercy when others would've kicked him to the curb. She allows him to be himself while not letting him make excuses. She encourages him to get help when it becomes painfully obvious that he needs to do something. (This was so hard to read because of the raw emotion)
This story paints a realistic and moving picture of what life is like for soldiers returning from war. It's very easy for those of us at home to expect them to assimilate back into regular life but how can they? Comparing them to previous war veterans and questioning why this generation can't seem to cope as well as the men who survived WWI, WWII or Korea isn't fair either. We need to support our soldiers, encouraging them in any way we can. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome shouldn't be seen as a career ender either.
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