The Art of Being Normal Review

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Cover Rating: 8/10, I really love this font!

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5 out of 5

“I bet his parents already assume he’s going to be a typical boy, that his favorite color will be blue or black or red, that he’ll play soccer and like cars and trucks, that one day he’ll marry a woman and have babies. And even if he’s not typical, even if he likes ballet or baking cakes or kissing boys instead of girls, they’ll still imagine their little boy will grow up to be a man. Because why wouldn’t they?”

This book is so important. I am so happy it exists. Transgender issues are rarely talked about in such an honest light that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

David’s parents think he’s gay. His classmates call him freakshow. But David is a straight girl, he’s just stuck inside the body of a boy. He knows this, and he’s known this his whole life–but how does he tell his parents?
Enter Leo Denton, a transfer student from Cloverdale with a secret past. No one knows why he transferred, just that he’s quiet and weird and new.  Leo plans to stay under the radar, until one of the prettiest girls in the grade starts talking to him.
When David is brutally bullied in the cafeteria, Leo stands up for him. A friendship is born, but secrets don’t stay down for long in Eden Park High School, and soon everyone knows about Leo’s past.

This book is about accepting who you really are and standing back from normality.
A few parts of this book are brutal to read, mainly on the topic of bullying. Every scenario that is described, though, isn’t outlandish. Scarily enough, I can see events like this happening in real life, whether it’s through social media or physically. And that’s so effing terrifying, because this is what teens are going through on a daily basis, just so they can be themselves. That’s why I’m so glad that this book exists. Is it going to stop the bullying of transgender teens? No, probably not. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to help.

Lisa Williamson handles the topic so well and it is clear that she has done her research. Some books with transgender characters can come off as stereotypical or offensive, but The Art of Being Normal is neither one of those. She talks about gender identity and gender roles in an eye-opening way (see the quote above).

Not only does it deal with important issues, but it’s funny. This quote had me literally laughing out loud:

“Simon Allen wanted to be Harry Potter, so badly that the previous term he had scratched a lightning bolt onto his forehead with a pair of scissors.”

My one critique is that I think the official book summary gives away too much. I thought that Leo coming out as transgender was more of a plot-twist-surprise sort of thing, especially because it wasn’t revealed until I was halfway through the book. Besides that, this book was very good.

This is such a special book, and I really recommend that everyone reads it to get a better look on what life can be like for transgender teens.

{Thank you to Macmallion Children’s @ NetGalley for sending me an advanced copy of this work. All quotes are from an advanced copy and therefore may not appear in the final publication.}

xx,

Sophie

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9 thoughts on “The Art of Being Normal Review

  1. This sounds great! I love a book that makes me think about current issues and this subject definitely needs more coverage. I love your review style too – I’ve just posted my first ever review so let me know if you have any pointers! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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