Hi there! I’ve not done a book review in forever, so I thought I’d review the first book I’ve read since starting University- can you believe I’ve not read a book in over two months, crazy!
The book I’m reviewing today is ‘The Art of Being Normal’ by Lisa Williamson. I picked this book off the library shelf at random to get a quick young adult fix. I really enjoyed reading this book, and it was just the kind of light young adult, with some deep moments thrown in, that I craved. I’d never heard of this book, or the author, before, but I would say that Williamson’s writing style reminded me a bit of Rainbow Rowell.
‘The Art of Being Normal’ is about two boys, David and Leo, who both have issues to battle with, growing up in the world as ‘different’ to the accepted norm. They are both around GCSE age, with David being slightly younger than Leo. David desperately wants to be a girl and, since he was a young boy, he has felt trapped in the wrong body. Leo also clearly has secrets, but his secret is concealed until about three quarters through the book, which I thought made the book much better, as it kept me thinking, and kept the suspense going.
Both boys have to deal with their own issues, with David going through the book in terror of someone finding out about his secret, and Leo also facing similar problems, as well as having to deal with going to a posh school but coming from the rough area of town. I don’t want to give too much away, as all the plot twists and turns were brilliant to read about, and I thought it was great that I knew nothing about the storyline before I started reading.
One of the things I loved about this book was the switching narrative. If you’ve been following me for a bit, you’ll know that I love a good narrative switch in the books I read, and I thought that, although David’s part was perhaps focussed on more, it was complemented really well with Leo’s narrative. The fact that Leo also clearly withheld information from the reader made his bits interesting to read, and I really liked looking at the differences in background of the two boys, with David coming from a much more middle-class family.
I also really liked the friendship that developed between David and Leo. They only really start talking to one another after David is being picked on by the school bully, and Leo stands up for him, and even after this Leo is cautious around David, coming across as standoff-ish. But as the story develops, so does their friendship. I thought in particular their trip to Kent was a heart-warming moment in their friendship, and it really made me smile. Their friendship reminded me a bit of the friendship between Simon and Baz in ‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell, and that kind of slow appreciation of each other was certainly there. The switching narratives also really reminded me of Rowell’s style- and this is a style I love to read, so that was definitely a positive.
One thing that I would say I still have mixed feelings on is the ending. I absolutely loved the prom towards the end, and I thought that was a fantastic ending to David’s story. However, I’m not as sure whether I was keen on Leo’s ending, and for me, this was a bit of a let down after everything Leo and David went through.
I hope you’ve been convinced to read this book- I certainly found that it tackled the transgender issue well, and it looked at just an ordinary boy’s feelings towards his own body, which I think is something which will help other young people feeling similar to David. It’s also just a nice book to read, with some lovely scenes of friendship. And it has a happy ending, which is always a bonus.
Overall rating: 3/5
Have you read this book? What did you think? What have you been reading recently? Let me know all your thoughts, I feel so out of the book blogging loop, I need to know what’s been happening!
Currently reading: ‘Follow Me Back’ by Nicci Cloke