Friday 17 April 2015

REVIEW: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Bookish Details:
Pages: 368 Hardcover
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Release Date: January 1st 2015
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK - Waterstones

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 eleven 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…

My Review:
This story follows David and Leo as they form an unlikely friendship after Leo transfers to Eden Park School. David was a girl born inside a boy’s body, and the only two people who know about it are his two best friends. He wants to tell his parents but doesn’t know how to. He assumes that they think he is is gay, and have been waiting for him to tell them so, but he doesn’t know how to explain to them that he’s not gay. He’s actually a straight girl.  

When the school’s bully gets hold of the notebook David uses to write about the changes happening to his body, Leo steps in to help. When the pair end up in detention together, they slowly start to get to know each other more.

Heart-warming, witty, and full of brilliant characters, I completely fell in love with The Art of Being Normal. The characters and events throughout the story are believable and beautifully written. Both protagonists had their own individual voice and personality, and the scenes between them were wonderful to read.

The character progression of both Leo and David was perfectly executed. I loved watching them grow throughout each chapter. This isn’t just a book about transgender issues; it’s about watching these characters develop and overcome their own personal problems and doubts.

I’m glad that David had his best friends, Essie and Felix, throughout the story. They were incredibly supportive of him, and it was good for him to have people to share everything with. Leo, on the other hand, is reserved to begin with and doesn’t have any desire to find close friends, so it was great seeing him slowly open up to David and finally learn that friendship isn’t a bad thing.

Leo’s story was fantastically written. Williamson has a great way of conveying the emotions that run through the minds of the characters and I feel she did this exceptionally well with Leo. When we finally find out what event happened in Leo’s past for him to have to move schools, I had to fight back the tears. It broke my heart, but it was so important to read.

There is a lot I would like to say about different parts of this book, but I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone! Just know that it now owns a little piece of my heart. As well as showing readers a glimpse at the struggles these characters have to face, this story is also packed with humour, hope, and beautiful moments that will stay with us long after the last page.

It’s also a fantastic example of good UKYA, and I can’t wait to see what else Lisa Williamson has in store. There was a lot of buzz online about this book before I read it, and now I see why. It’s a story that does live up to the hype. I’m excited to see more and more readers pick it up and fall in love with the characters as I did.

*I used male pronouns in regards to David in this review because they are used within the book.*

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