Monday 3 June 2019

Book Review | The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Title: The Art of Being Normal
Author: Lisa Williamson
Publication Date: 1st January 2015
Format: Paperback
Target Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Waterstones, Book Depository




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…


Who wants to be normal anyway? Here lies so-and-so- They were entirely normal - The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson 

This book ended up going in a completely different direction then I thought it was going to. David is fourteen and struggling with how to tell their family that they are actually female and not the 'boy' their parents were raising. Leo is a boy who comes from 'the wrong side of the tracks' and who struggles a lot with his home life and his search for his biological dad. These two are thrown together when Leo defends David to a school bully and a tentative friendship is born.

Without being too spoilery, I initially thought this book was a romance between the two main characters but refreshingly it wasnt. It was definitely a friendship focused book that was a great change of pace from most YA contemporary's, especially ones that deal with gender identity and sexuality. We get to see two young boys being able to open up to each other about their problems without the fear of being judged or misunderstood.

I definitely preferred the character of David over Leo. David was a very sweet protaganist, they're a little shy and still attempting to work up the courage to be more open about their true identity both at home and at school. He definitely latches on to Leo a little bit and tended to follow him around like a puppy dog without an owner. I had to keep reminding myself that he is only fourteen and he thinks he's finally found someone to confide in, they're a little cringy but very adorable. Leo on the other hand does his best to ignore David for the majority of the book even though David is only doing their best to be friendly and welcoming. I often found myself annoyed about his rude exterior and generally thought David was wasting their time attempting to form a friendship with him. Both their characters do grow as the story goes on and I was pleased when Leo progressively lets his guard down.

I will admit I wasn't expecting the big 'reveal' in the middle of the book although looking back on it now I feel pretty stupid I didn't catch on a bit earlier! I did sit there for a few seconds with my mouth hanging open in happiness but also pure shock.

There are some slightly vague references that some people could take as being transphobic. I'm cis so I can't speak for the transgender community but some of the comments made by Leo towards David didn't really sit right with me and I could see how they would come across as offensive. I also wasn't keen on the issues of transphobia and bullying towards David not being properly addressed. It's a recurring theme but wasn't really solved properly and there was no clear punishments for the culprits.     

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