We Are Totally Normal by Rahul Kanakia

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*The book discussed in this post was gifted by the publisher

When you see a book that just looks incredibly gay and cute, is there any reason not to pick it up, really? I am ALWAYS here for an LGBTQ+ romance, or any LGBTQ+ books. So when We Are Totally Normal was pitched to me, i knew i had to learn about Nandan and Dave and their awkward teenagerhood.

Nandan doesn’t know he’s gay. He’s kind of interested, but kind of not, most of his friends are straight and he fancies a girl, so he must be straight, right? Que one night with his school friend Dave, not the most popular person but someone who is showing interest in Nandan, and it gives Nandan a whole lot of thinking to do. We Are Totally Normal is an incredibly real and realistic portrayal of coming out in 2020, and figuring out if you should be coming out or not.

The main focus of this book is Nandan’s feelings towards being out and being gay. He flits between labels for his sexuality a lot, and he’s very clearly confused. Which i think most teenagers are when they first realise they’re attracted to a different gender. I’ve never read a book that has explained that confusion in the way this has. I myself went through a lot of confusion about my sexuality, and honestly it’s been ten years since i came out and i’m still not entirely sure. Having Nandan articulate his feelings so calmly really made a lot of sense to me, as someone in an age range this isn’t even aimed at. It talks through sexuality with sense and security which makes you aware it’s okay to be whatever you want at any time. And that’s a huge positive message that i definitely want to share with young adults at the moment.

The writing of We Are Totally Normal is absolutely lovely. It’s simplistic, funny and fun, and i sped through this book in about two days because i couldn’t put it down. The pace was excellent and there was always something happening that you know would lead on to something else. Nandan as a narrator (a slightly unrealiable one) really gave off a good impression of a teenager figuring himself out. It read wonderfully.

I do want to talk about the characters a little bit, because in some ways they made this book for me and in some ways they let it down slightly. I really loved the difference between Nandan’s personality and Dave’s. It was clear they were attracted to each other, however they were very different people. These characters were probably the most fleshed out and the most interesting to me. I really loved reading about them. There is also a character called Henry, who is the only out gay kid at school, and he definitely stuck out as a well written character. Although flamboyant, he struck me as very real. I loved his personality against the other teenagers featured in this book.

What let it down slightly for me was the dull female characters. This book is heavily male based, which is fine and i really loved their characters. However the females i didn’t enjoy so much. They were quite bland, very similar to each other and just not who i thought would be involved with the rest of the friend group. All the girls honestly were a little bitchy and it put me off most parts with them in. They do play a vital role in Nandan figuring out his sexuality, so they are a very necessary part of the book i will admit.

There’s not much to say about this book except i really enjoyed it. It was fast paced, the characters i enjoyed and i think it has a really strong and important message in it. It probably won’t go down as one of my favourite books in history, but i had a damn good time reading it.

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4 four Stars

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