Saturday, 25 June 2016

The Art Of Being Normal - Lisa Williamson


Two Outsiders. Two secrets.

David longs to be a girl.

Leo wants to be invisible.

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…


I picked this book up a what feels like years ago but it's maybe 4 months at best. I had heard a lot about the book and it really caught my eye so I just couldn't resist.

What happens on pages 64 for 4 pages made my chest hurt so badly I had to put the book down, cry a little and then pick up where I had let off.

The books follows two protagonists who both go to Eden Park School: David Piper, a biological male who has always wanted to be a girl, and Leo Denten, an outsider with his own dark secrets. Although the two seem quite different - David, more reserved and wistful, Leo, more moody and confrontational - a twist of fate brings them together in ways neither of them expect. Of course its a fight which is mentioned in the synopsis, its a very great moment to have read because although its physically gave me pain to read, to have what happens actually happen makes me smirk because its something I was really wanting to happen.

I adore Lisa's willingness to tackle a trans character and the challenges they face. She makes David's struggle to accept himself a central part of the plot while writing his dual perspective with Leo in a way that maintains a solid pace for the story as a whole. The use of dual perspective was a refreshing way of writing and very enjoyable. I've become accustomed to dual perspective written books recently.

I found David to be very authentic, dealing with the problems and troubles that any transgender teen no doubt encounters. Very anxious at the unwanted changes occurring within and to her body. I found myself feeling very upset that she didn't feel comfortable and didn't have the confidence to 'come out' yet - such is the nature of our modern society that most LGBTQIA+ people feel so oppressed and scared that they don't dare speak out about their wishes.
Leo, although also a main character, seemed to take a more back seat role to me despite his importance and relevance throughout the book. I did really love his character as a transgender teen. I really connected to the main characters in the book, I felt real emotion towards their situations and lives.

I loved that the book also showed the risks - that they might be rejected or ridiculed, and I do hope that through books such as this and the slowly changing stereotypes, that we may soon be able to change the way society thinks.

When it comes to how the book ends, I feel like I could have used my wotsits I was eating minutes later to soak up my tears and leave cheese dust trails down my face. Lisa approved. I really adored how it ended, it was very cute and such a beautiful moment. I was more happy emotional than anything else and I'm pretty sure other readers were too. I can say that id be really happy for a follow up book with these characters but I would be too upset if Lisa had no current plans to go that way soon or at all. I am happy with what I got in this book. I give the book a solid 5/5. I'm off to go and wipe the cheese dust from my face.

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