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Ah Wednesday – another one has rolled around again! If you’re lucky enough to have been enjoying this weather then congratulations! I spent all day Saturday lying reading The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, and just had to share my thoughts with you.
So with having cleared out my bookshelf during lockdown – between reading a load of books and then clearing out some that didn’t spark joy (thanks Marie Kondo…) when I went to my bookshelf on Saturday morning I came across The Art of Being Normal. Now I would’ve sworn this had been on my bookshelf for about 4 years. And to be fair it probably was! My edition was published in 2016 and I can almost pinpoint the exact day I bought it. Jason and I had walked into town to go book shopping, and we ended up out for dinner and drinks at the bar he worked at. A good day!
The Art of Being Normal
Two outsiders. Two secrets.
David longs to be a girl.
Leo wants to be invisible.
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…
Lisa Williamson was born in Nottingham in 1980 where most of her childhood was spent drawing, daydreaming and making up stories in her head while never getting round to writing them down. As a teenager she was bitten by the acting bug and at 19 moved to London to study drama at university. Between acting roles, Lisa worked as an office temp and started making up stories all over again, only this time she had a go at writing them down. Lisa lives in London, where she is lucky enough to split her time between writing and acting.
Consisting of 353 pages, I would have to say I devoured The Art of Being Normal. I would admit, there were times the language was a little disheartening – David doesn’t want to be a girl, David is a girl stuck in the body of a boy. But I couldn’t put it down. Beautifully written to make you fall in love with our two protagonists, Lisa Williamson’s portrayal of these two was a good beginners insight into what the life of a transgender teen might experience.
I laughed out loud. I cried. I felt every emotion the two main characters felt. As they cemented their friendship, I was waiting with baited breath for the inevitable twist that had to be coming. I mean, the blurb more or less spells it out to you that secrets have a way of being found out.
However. I did have a lot of issues when reading the book and wasn’t sure if that was just because it has been written for a target age group of “Young Adult” readers. The language used at times confused me, and multiple times I had to remind myself what age the two main characters were because of their apparent mental age. I know it’s said that girls mature quicker than boys, but there were times I forgot the two were at a secondary school instead of primary.
On the other hand, there was a large part of me connected to the two very quickly. I was drawn to them both. David’s desire to be known and Leo’s desire to be invisible. And it is that part of the book that I wanted to focus on. Because anyone who has ever doubted themselves, or struggled to understand who they are, will relate to David from chapter one onwards. They’ll understand that desire to be themselves while being terrified of anyone finding out their truth. On the other hand, I strongly connected to Leo – his need to be invisible. To be left alone and just allowed to be that way.
Would I recommend The Art of Being Normal? Overall, yes. But to what I feel is the target audience – those readers in school still themselves. On that basis, taking into account I left school 6 years ago (which is a terrifying thought in itself) and therefore wouldn’t see myself as the target audience, I would have to give The Art of Being Normal a solid 7 out of 10.
If you would like to get your hands on a copy, you can do so here! [AFF]
Have you read The Art of Being Normal? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!
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