Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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.
Except the past can't be rewound and this is the life I chose.
After his first year in Afghanistan, Travis is a different person and he clearly doesn't know how to reconcile the person he was when he left--the person his family and friends expect him to be--with the haunted, changed person he's become. Travis' emotional turmoil will break your heart at points. His story is one that I think is probably more common than most of us experience and it's eye-opening for those of us who probably never will.
Staples bugged me because he cried after we got our heads shaved. I mean, okay, I can see how it could be considered degrading because it strips away one of the things that sets you apart from everyone else, but what-the-fuck-ever. It grows back.
The whole story that Ms. Doller has crafted is so RAW and heart-wrenching from the very beginning. Nothing ever seems forced or contrived and Travis' story will carry you through to the end. You rejoice in the moments where someone is willing to stop and attempt to really see what he's going through, even though he doesn't want to let anyone in. The characters, the story, the writing--this one is really a whole package deal.
I can't tell them the things they really want to know. How it feels to kill someone. It's different for everyone, but I felt a rush of adrenaline. A fleeing triumph, And later, in the night when it was quiet, the guilt hit like a sucker punch. Because, even though he was trying to kill me, I'd taken someone's life. These are things I've tried to leave in Afghanistan. Otherwise, how am I ever going to live with myself?-p111, eARC
There's not much else that I really feel like I can say about this one! It's the type of story that you really have to experience for yourself to understand, and it's going to affect different people in any number of different ways based on personal experiences. I highly, highly recommend that you pick this one up and give it a try. I really don't think you'll be sorry if you do.