“And even though I know that there’s a ton of stuff ahead I’m so terrified about I can’t breathe sometimes, tonight I can’t help but feel like no matter how hard it gets, everything might just be OK in the end.” – Lisa Williamson.
Wow, I don’t know where to begin with this book. I have wanted to read it for a while, but the thing that finally encouraged me to pick it up was the Girl Gang Book Club as this was the book selected. Although I unfortunately didn’t read it in time for the chat over on twitter, I still tried to take part and over the weekend I finally finished it.
The Art of Being Normal is the story of two teens and it switches from each of their points of view about every other chapter. David is transgender; as depicted by the cover, he is a girl stuck in a boys body. Leo is the new kid in school and he’s trying to keep his distance from everyone, he’s trying to avoid making friends because Leo has his own secret he’s trying to hide…
First of all, massive round of applause to Williamson for creating this wonderful book with a transgender character as the protagonist. While I may not be able to directly relate to the experiences of David, I think that this book has done a brilliant job at presenting people whose gender identity doesn’t match up with their sex.
I loved David; it was probably my favourite perspective to read from. Throughout we witness David’s struggles to come out to his parents and he’s such a sweet and adorable character that I was so pleased when he found the courage to do it. He’s one of those characters you just want to wrap up in a blanket and protect from all the evil in the world as he’s so lovely and genuine. However, with his storyline I was a little disappointed that we never really had an interaction with Zachary and we never find out what his thoughts on David being transgender were.
I did like Leo’s character too, but in a different way. While I enjoyed David’s perspective I was actually a bit more interested in Leo’s because his storyline had a bit more mystery to it which really intrigued me due to the disappearance of his dad at a young age and mentions of an unspecified event which took place earlier in the year.
I found this book really easy to get into and to read. If I ever put it down I never had a problem picking it up again and I was definitely kept interested enough not to put it down for long whenever I did. I also really appreciated the format of the book, even though it took me a hundred pages to realise that each of the main character’s perspectives were written in different fonts so you could quickly identify from which viewpoint you’re reading from. Please tell I am not the only one who took that long to notice this.
The ending was very pleasing and satisfying, although it did feel a bit odd to read a Christmas scene in April! Nevertheless, it made me happy and content. While I wouldn’t ask for a sequel, I would still love to know more about the lives of these characters and what their futures look like, so perhaps a little novella?
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and rate it 5/5. I found it cute and light-hearted at times, it made me smile and I would definitely recommend it to those who enjoy books aimed at young adults and those that enjoy reading about LGBT+ characters.
‘Besides,’ Dad says, ‘who wants to be normal anyway? Fancy that on your gravestone. “Here lies so-and-so. They were entirely normal”.’
Have you read The Art of Being Normal? What were your thoughts?