Book Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson


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.

David has been longing to come out to his parents as Kate for a long time, but each time he tries there’s something stopping him. While trying to get through school with the help of his two best friends he takes an interest in Leo, a new guy who’s rumored to have been thrown out of his old school. While no one else will even look him in the eye David wants to get to know him better and not just because he’s gorgeous.

This was the first book I read in 2015 and as I mentioned in my top books of 2015 post, I absolutely adored it. This is the first book I have read with a trans character as the main character. I picked this up because it was on offer and I’m so glad I did, although written for a YA audience this is a great book and Williamson has cemented herself as a great writer. There are twists, turns, happiness and sadness in this novel. It is an emotional rollercoaster, but most great books are.

There is so much I wish I could tell you about, but a lot of my favourite parts come after a twist. The story builds really well to the twists and is pretty unputdownable. I will say though that while I liked David, he wasn’t my favourite character, he was a little too nice and acted younger than he was. I absolutely adored Leo though, even as you get to know more about him he’s just a great character which a much richer back story and he develops throughout the novel into someone I really liked.

This book is the kind of book that needed to be written, the title says it all really, there’s an art to being ‘normal’. When I say that I mean that I think there is a certain act that people put on to try and appear how they think they should and how others want them to be. The book eventually gets rid of this, as the characters grow stronger and more certain in themselves there is a moment of simply not caring about being ‘normal’ and that’s a really important message for young adults. Williamson can’t have known before she wrote this that 2015 was going to be a huge year for the Trans community, which is what makes this novel even more special. She gets it.

Of course I’m giving this novel 5 stars *****. Not only does this tackle a subject that isn’t spoken about enough, it’s talking about it to young people who can change the future for the Trans community. The characters were relatable and so was the plot. I think for many this will let them empathise and understand a little more about what it’s like to feel born into the wrong body. I also can’t wait to see what’s going to come next from Lisa Williamson, I cannot stress enough how much of a brilliant writer she is.

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