Review: The Art of Being Normal

Monday, April 6, 2015

Author: Lisa Williamson

Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBTQIA
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Release Date: January 1, 2015
Summary (via Goodreads)

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 eleven 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…
The Art of Being Normal was awesome! I blasted through it in a day because I just could not put it down. The writing is so fun and easy to read, and it really puts you right into the minds of David and Leo, two very distinct voices and characters. It's very rare that I find a book with two narrators and am completely 100% interested in both of their stories equally. Both David and Leo's stories are written with such care and then blend seamlessly into one another without any disjointed feeling. It made it almost effortless to read because it just dragged me in and suddenly two hours had passed! 

I was really excited to read a book with transgender main characters, and I was totally not disappointed. Especially in YA, there are so few, and many transgender stories focus on a sibling or friend reacting rather than the transgender person's experience (i.e. Luna, which was a good book but lacked something for me). But Lisa Williamson did this story justice! I really thought it was a great portrayal of transgender characters, both MTF (male to female) and FTM (female to male). Really amazing.

The characters! I feel like even taking about them would give the book away! Because it's these characters that really make this book amazing. David is such a sweet character who is struggling with hiding his true self and telling his parents, but by the end he really comes into his own. And gruff, stand-offish Leo is a bit of a mystery at the beginning of the book. But as he opens up to David and goes through so much, you really see him become a more hopeful person.  Both were such well developed characters that really stuck with me.

Seeing the growth in Leo and David and their friendship together just made me so happy. Honestly, I think about it, and I don't know whether to laugh or cry because their friendship made me do both while I was reading it! It was definitely a rocky friendship at first, but they way that they supported each other was fantastic. 

Honestly, this book has everything. Friendship. Family. Personal growth. Diverse characters. A bit of romance. A bit of heartbreak. A good dollop of hope. I am almost tempted just to start reading it again.

Rating: 5 out of 5. I loved this book, and it now has a fixed place in my heart and my bookshelf. Go read it! It is definitely worth it.

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