Something Like Normal was easily one of the most enjoyable New Adult books I've read this year and I was fully under the impression that this will be following a similar vein but with heavier emotional heft as the hero Aidan/Aiden (it varies) Connelly not only suffers from PTSD but also lost an arm from his tour in Afghanistan and the heroine (Kate Walker), a distant family acquaintance, was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
Such heavy potential right there, which unfortunately kept at being all potential none kinetic (I just dropped some Physics right there. Recognize people.)
Because apart from protesting about carrying a big bag containing her diabetes paraphernalia (You don't understand! It's forever!) Kate is reeling from getting dumped by her Princeton-bound Obama-wannabe boyfriend for a cheerleader. She really needs a distraction from all that heartache and responsibility to keep herself alive.
And that's where Aidan/Aiden comes in. Who also needs a distraction from the things that he's actively avoiding from doing, like figuring out what to do with his life now that he's a veteran. At nineteen. Or visiting the widow of the guy who ended up dead beside him when his arm was blasted off. And he really needs someone to say to his face that he has one arm which Kate, luckily, loves doing while not telling Aidan/Aiden her condition. And from there you can pretty much surmise where things will go and how things will pan out.
This was told in alternating POVs between Kate and Aidan/Aiden in a back and forth manner which is never my favorite storytelling device because it doesn't necessarily serve the progression of the story best but just feels like something done for symmetry. This is my first read form this author and the writing wasn't exceptionally good but wasn't offensive either. Oh wait the sheer number of times or something was used/abused as sentence filler (27, if you're curious)? Yeah not offensive but cringe-worthy nonetheless. The dialogue was okay, though if I was a seventeen year-old girl, I'd probably be offended by Perry's interpretation of a girl from that age.
Now I really really need to be careful here because it is so easy to point the blame at Kate for dragging the story down with her immaturity and selfishness, refusing to face the gravity of her disease. From the 33-year old vantage point, taking shots of insulin everyday indefinitely versus, I dunno, life altering end organ damage and/or certain death… that's really not up for discussion. However, from someone as young as Kate, I think I can remotely understand some of her bitterness on her first world problems.
I can't imagine one of those. How awkward would it have made Aidan? Some electronic thing strapped to me. A small tube inserted in my skin. I shudder at
how weird and gross that would be. Attached.
Emphasis on the SOME and the REMOTELY.
And the rest really was completely ridiculous. The kind that makes you want to reach into your reading device and smack her senseless. She thinks having a disease makes her feel "gross"… I suspect this has a lot to do with the lying down on the public bathroom floor (Ewww!!!) to administer her insulin because she's scared of needles but knowing Kate's logic about her condition, who really knows. She has some insatiable need to make herself out as a victim when she doesn't need to. And I'm not sure someone who doesn't even have any sense of life preservation should be having sex at this point of emotional maturity. I mean, perish the thought this girl gets pregnant!
If this is believable, realistic behavior for a seventeen year-old is debatable because the only seventeen year-old girls I know right now are all book characters who have either survived dystopian conditions or FUBAR families. And I think this is where the book falters a lot. Kate wasn't made into anybody else but the diabetic girl moping about her condition, flirting with the one-armed guy. That even when Aidan/Aiden recognizes Kate's immaturity (and the book relies heavily on that precedent to excuse her behavior), even when it better serves to contrast Kate's growth as a character… I just can't like understand and sympathize with her. Even if she's a (not really so) young girl with her whole life ahead of her burdened with the responsibility of proactively keeping herself alive.
That is still asking for far too much from me.
I don't know if it was Kate's terrible character that made Aidan/Aiden the better half of the story. Although I'm wondering, the morning after they had sex, the first thing he does is take a phone photo with Kate, is that a thing now? His struggle in dealing with his disability was described quite vividly and I liked the quiet dignity given his character. But one thing I liked aboutSomething Like Normal is that it gave a bigger focus on the hero's life as a soldier on tour than the actual romance. You get a better picture of where his pain is stemming from. This lacked in that department in that Aidan/Aiden's grief was hazily detailed with not much portrayal of him before he lost his arm which would've given him better depth.
Perhaps I would've enjoyed this book better with a better executed heroine and if the focus wasn't too skewed in favor of Kate's issues. There's so much unexplored depth in the plot, unfortunately wasted on absurd teenage drama… or something.
ARC provided by Albert Whitman & Co. Publishing thru NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased honest review. Quotes may not appear in the final edition.