Book Review: The Art of Being Normal

Book: The Art of Being Normal

Author: Lisa Williamson

U.S. Release Date: May 31, 2016

Pages: 353

Grade: A

 

 

Synopsis (from 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…

Review

I loved this book! It may be the counselor in me, but to have a book written from the viewpoint of a high school boy that has known he wanted to be a girl his entire life, is relevant to the world we live in today, and addresses the serious content with humor and respect, and not as a complete joke, was refreshing and will be beneficial for every single person that reads it.

The Art of Being Normal shows the really horrible sides of being a teenager and transgender. It shows the name calling, the bullying, and the idea of hating your body so much that you keep track of how much each piece of you each day to make sure that you might still look like a girl someday.  But it also shows the good sides, friends and parents that are accepting of you, finding out that there are people that want to help you, and the elation and the confidence that you get when you actually look the way you feel you should. I have recommended this book to just about everyone I know, and I think you all should read it too if you haven’t.

Characters

David – David has known practically his whole life that he wants to be a girl, but was too scared to do or say anything about it to anyone, other than his best friends. It was wonderfully to be able to get inside David’s head and hear his thoughts on what it is like to feel that way.

He is a pretty stagnant character throughout most of the book because he is so scared, but toward the end, thanks to the help of his friends, he changes dramatically.  He doesn’t fear the things that he used to, and because of this he grows as a character.  That is what the book is really about: growing as a person, and becoming who you really are and who you truly want to be. I pictured him a bit like Logan Lerman, but with blonde hair.

Leo- Leo is like David in that they both have a secret that they are both scared to reveal to anyone. Leo wants to make you think that he is drastically different from David.  Leo puts up a front to make you think he is scared of very little. He will defend people he doesn’t know. He will stand up to the crappy guys that his mom is dating. But, in fact, Leo is scared of quite a few things. He is scared of what girls that like him will think of him. He is scared to meet his dad that ran out on him. He is scared of looking weak. This is pretty much exactly how I pictured Leo. The actor below is Evan Ross.

Friends and Family – David and Leo’s friends and family, while they play rather minor roles in the story, have a big impact on who the boys become in the end. David has a younger sister who actually has quite a character arc. It’s fun to watch it unfold. Leo has two sisters who lend to a brightening of Leo’s story. The parents of both boys play pivotal roles in who they become whether that means accepting their secrets, or drastically changing the outlook the boys have on life.

Rating

The Art of Being Normal gets a big fat “A” from me. One of my favorite lines is a quote that I actually try to live by each day.  David’s friend, Essie, tells him to “dance like no one is watching” while they are at a school dance.  I think this quote sums up the entire book.  As people, we should be who we are. Feel how you feel, do what you do, be who you are, and do it as though the rest of the world and what they think about you, doesn’t matter.  All the matters is you and who you are and want to be.
Grade A

Happy Reading!

Erin

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