Publisher: David Fickling Books
Release Date: 1st January 2015
Edition: UK hardback, purchased
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 now 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 11 is definitely not part of that plan. When David stands up for Leo in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny way of not staying secret for long...
The Art of Being Normal is one of those books that has been garnering awe-filled tweets from the second that the first copies went out. Every single one of them is justified.
Written in a split narrative, Leo and David are two boys that couldn’t be more different at first glance. David comes from a supporting and loving family, and though he’s not one of Eden Park’s ‘cool kids’, he has two best friends that are just as oddball as he is. And yet they are both in a mental space; unsure of themselves and holding a secret that it ready to burst out of them. David’s secret is an open one to everyone but his parents – he’s gay – but Leo’s is tightly guarded. I did end up guessing what it was, but it didn’t lessen the impact at all.
This book is so incredibly important because of the way it portrays being transgender. It’s always boggled my mind that anyone can think that a trans person is disgusting, perverted or a freak – insults thrown around in The Art of Being Normal – but then when thrown into context with characters you’ve grown to love, it’s even harder to comprehend. Lisa Williamson’s debut has the potential to educate those who don’t understand, to teach them that actually a trans person is just a person, and a person who is trapped in a body that isn’t theirs and the true horror of that reality. I really, really hope that it makes it into school libraries everywhere and it would be even better if it was required reading.
I fell in love with this beautiful, hopeful, brave and life-affirming novel and I want everyone to read it. And I want to read it all over again. What a start to 2015.