Book Review: The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson | The Girl Gang Read of the Month for April.

I bought
myself a copy of this book after it was made the March/April choice in the Girl
Gang Book Club. I’d never heard of it prior to being recommended in this book
club, so it was a brand new one for me (weirdly, the day after I ordered it I
got an email from Waterstones telling me it had won a prestigious young adult
prize. It was obviously meant to be.) I’ve learnt since that this book is kind
of a big deal in the book world, so you’ve probably heard of it already! I
think I devoured this one in less than a few days because it was just THAT
good. And of course, I’m going to tell you exactly why…

The Art of
Being Normal is the story of two young men. The first, David, only wants one thing
in life: to stop hiding behind an identity with which he doesn’t relate. He
wants to be a woman. There are only two people who are aware of this desire,
his best friends. The book follows his struggle to finally admit to his parents
that he identities with being female, being attracted to other men and
generally just not fitting into the body he was born into. We’re also
introduced to Leo, a new student at the school that David goes to who has had
trouble in his past. He wants to stick his head done, finish his time at high
school and go unnoticed. When he gets in a fight which leads to him defending
David, it’s clear that he isn’t going to be allowed to be left out of the
spotlight. I’m not going to spoil the plot (because I never do in my reviews)
but this one is definitely a book that you should read if you’re into YA/LGBT
fiction and to be honest, even if you’re not.

I will start
by saying that this isn’t a book which is clichéd in its approach of
transgender teenagers. I didn’t at any point find any of the reading
uncomfortable, or disrespectful, or harbouring on inconsiderate. It was exactly
the opposite of that, if I’m honest with you, and that was definitely something
which made me really love the story. I absolutely loved David and Leo’s
characters and the friendship that they build over the course of the book, but
I must be honest: I love Leo much, much more! His character appealed to me in
all the right ways and I found him exciting and mysterious, all the things I
love in a book character! We’re fed little trinkets of information about his
past and there’s a little bit of a twist in the tale as far as he is concerned.

I’ve never
read a book exclusively about transgender teens, and this one is special in the
sense that it’s much anticipated and gaining great prestige already. I think
that Lisa Williamson was definitely the right person to be putting this story
out, she handled it with care and thought and I’m sure that those who are going
through similar things to the characters in this story will be able to relate
to the characters. I’d say that this is an incredibly important contribution to
Young Adult literature and the subject matter only makes it all the more