Author: Lisa Williamson
Publication Date: January 1st, 2015
Goodreads | Book Depository
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…
I was really pleasantly surprised by this book. I've been hearing a lot about it and on my quest to read more UKYA (since it's where I'm from and I want to support the UKYA scene) I decided to pick it up. I am so happy that I did as it is one of those stories that I completely devoured.
David is fourteen years old and has known since he was a child that he is really a female stuck inside a male body. His two best friends are the only ones to know and he is struggling to find the right way to tell his parents. He has already been branded the "freak show" at school and certainly doesn't want his life to become even more difficult. But he knows that he needs to become who he really is.
Leo is the new kid school and his attempt to stay as invisible as possible fails when he steps in and stands up for David in a fight. David is insistent in becoming friends with him but Leo moved schools for a reason and David is set to become the only person to know the real truth of why.
The characters in this book are wonderful. There are alternating points of view from David and Leo and each had a very distinct voice. Both of their stories are very moving in their own way and have the right balance of sensitivity, development and humour.
One of the things I liked most about this story is that it's not just about being transgender. It tackles diversity, the class system, bullying, becoming a teenager and turbulent family relationships. Each theme is so beautifully written and with just the right amount of humour that you can be in tears one minute whilst laughing the next.
The Art of Being Normal is an emotional and realistic coming-of-age story which challenges the idea of what being "normal" actually means. I highly recommend it.