Title: The Art Of Being Normal
Author: Lisa Williamson
Genre: LQBTQ+, YA, Contemporary
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Publication Date: 1st January 2015
Summary: Two boys. Two secrets. David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year 11 is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long ..
Ever since the release of this book it’s been on my radar as one to watch. Since it’s release in early 2015, it feels like more and more transgender YA novels have been released, in some ways it paved the way for more LGBTQ+ novels in the YA genre. So that has to mean that its good, right? The cover intrigued me from the start and when the paperback was released i finally picked it up. I also had the pleasure of meeting Lisa Williamson at YALC this year, she was an absolute The Art Of Being Normal was the first novel that i pulled out from my TBR jar this year. So i set to reading it.
When David was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he stared in horror around the room when other children had written ‘nurse’ or ‘pilot’. That’s because David had written ‘a girl’. As he grew up, he kept this secret to himself, afraid of who he wanted to be. It wasn’t until the mysterious figure, Leo entered his life from Cloverdale school that he started to develop his character, letting himself be who he wanted. David couldn’t even imagine that hard-faced-Leo would have any idea of what he was going through.
I love novels about anything LGBTQ+. As a gay person myself, i’m intrigued by what other people go through with their identities and the struggles they face. The interesting part of this novel was that the main characters are just slightly under the young adult age. They’ll all around 14 and 15, so that made me wonder what went through a 14 year old’s head when they’re trying to discover such huge things about themselves.
I really enjoyed the writing of this novel, it was a very easy read with characters that were all misfits. A good sign of a YA novel to me. I was in the mood for an easy read, and this defintely delivered.
The storyline lacked something, i’m not sure what, but it was something. I felt like some parts were rushed over and then not mentioned again. I enjoyed some of the drama within the story, however it just seemed a little flat at times. It disappointed me a little because the story has so much potential to be gritty and inspiring, however it just ended up one event after another. I would have loved more of what David was actually feeling throughout the story, his interpretation of the changes.
This novel would be great for introducing young teens to a transgender world. It’s a simple story of one teens struggle with accepting who he is, but if you’re looking for a more sophisticated account of being transgender, this maybe isn’t the book for you.