Monday, 19 January 2015
Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Format: Hardcover / eBook
Released: January 1st, 2015
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...
The Art of Being Normal is one of the best YA books you will read this year, I guarantee it. Not only is it Lisa Williamson's debut novel but it's also one of the most powerful books I've ever read, and I don't say that very often. It's a rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish, but one that is so, so important to today's teenagers - this book really could change someone's life.
David has grown up knowing he wants to be a girl and only his best friends, Essie and Felix, know the truth. His parents think he's gay, his classmates think he's weird and life is something of a struggle. It's only when he meets Leo Denton, the new boy with a bad reputation, that life starts to fall into place and make sense again. Because Leo has secrets too, but they're not at all what you imagine them to be.
David and Leo's relationship is something to behold; it unfolds like a great mystery, tough at first but with a sudden burst of clarity. They understand each other, they help each other, and ultimately they make each other's lives that little bit better. Of course nothing is smooth sailing for them and their newfound friendship, but they muddle through and discover new reasons to get up in the morning.
The transgender aspect of The Art of Being Normal is written with the utmost respect and realism and, though it will be the main talking point when this book is mentioned, it's not all it encompasses. Not even by half. I've never read a book that deals with transgender teenagers in this way, and for that reason I think it could easily become the literary anthem for today's teens struggling with the same issues as David and Leo.
The Art of Being Normal is a beautifully written, engaging story about two teenagers navigating their lives as best they can. It's about understanding, acceptance, family, courage and learning to love yourself for who, and what, you are. The LGBTQ community will love this book and all it stands for, as will every single person who is lucky enough to pick up a copy. Don't let this one pass you by because you really will be missing out on a book that's set to be talked about for years to come.