The Art of Being Normal

The Art of Being Normal

The Art of Being Normal
Lisa Williamson

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910200322

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 ...

Librarian's Book choice

Transgender is becoming a far more talked about topic that it has ever been in the past, and in the case of books written for young people that was not at all. The Art of Being Normal is a welcome entry on to the scene. It is touchingly told in two voices. The first is Richard. We know from the start that he feels that he is in the wrong body and is dreading puberty and becoming irreconcilably masculine. He cannot tell anyone his secret, apart from his two best friends, fellow outcasts in the jungle that is high school Leo is the new boy at school and we hear his story as he tries to keep his head down, avoid falling for the prettiest girl in school and steer clear of the bullies. The two become surprising allies. Williamson has created a fascinating and compelling story of two young people trying to make sense of their identities. It appears that the author worked for a while in a service that helped young people struggling with their gender identity and I think that knowing young trans people has helped her draw a very real picture of their lives. Some may argue that the ending is a little romantic but I think that in many ways it rings true. All teenagers have something they feel makes them different and are far more accepting of other people's difference when allowed. On the other hand, I think the bullying and adult indifference that forms the most part of the book also ring true and that makes me feel very sad. An excellent and thought-provoking book, a must read. 353 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Caroline Downie, librarian.


Reviews

The Art of Being Normal5/5

The Art of Being Normal

Lisa Williamson

Review

The Art of Being Normal is one of those books that has you hooked from the very beginning. David and Leo are two boys at the same school who stand out for different reasons but ultimately form a tentative friendship. Lisa Williamson has managed to introduce an extremely sensitive, largely unknown subject to teenagers in a well written story that covers many issues and emotions. I normally loathe books that end as if a sequel was planned all along. This book does not do that but I almost wished it would as I would love to know how some of the other characters feel (Wonder by R.J.Palagio is a great example of this) and also how the story progresses. All I can say is, read this book as to say any more about it might give something away. I loved it and would highly recommend it for mature 12+ readers.

Reviewed by: Lorraine Ansell