Review of The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

To be published on May 31, 2016
by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux

Source: ARC from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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 his class 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 , and soon everyone knows that Leo used to be a girl. 

As David prepares to come out to his family and transition into life as a girl and Leo wrestles with figuring out how to deal with people who try to define him through his history, they find in each other the friendship and support they need to navigate life as transgender teens as well as the courage to decide for themselves what normal really means. 

Review of The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

 This is the second book I've read this month that featured trans characters. (You can read my review of If I Was Your Girl here.

While that book was more of a classic YA romance, The Art of Being Normal felt more to me like a coming of age story.

David can barely bring himself to say the words: I wish I were a girl. 

He examines his body in secret, distressed as it becomes more and more masculine as the months go by. 

His parents know that he's struggling with some kind of identity issue, but he fears that if he tells them the truth, they won't understand or be supportive. 

Leo is further along in his transition, but as he starts a new school, begins a relationship with a beautiful fellow student and keeps trying to find the father who abandoned him, will he be able to find acceptance and love?

I loved the writing in this book - it was really engaging and easy to read. I thought it was interesting that the book featured two characters at different points in their transition process. 

As I said in my review of If I Was Your Girl, I think stories like these that feature themes of self-discovery and the search for love and self-acceptance can really resonate with a broad range of YA readers while also offering perspectives and characters that (until now) have not been featured in YA.

I enjoyed this one a lot - be sure to check it out!


  1. Great review. I didn't realized there was a second character. I have this one on my list already, but now I'm even more intrigued.

  2. Timely read what with the trans issue going around in the US. Though, I don't know why it's still an issue in your country, to be honest. Anyway, can of worms, can of worms. Lol. This book reminds me of Freak Boy. Great review, Jen.

  3. I really liked this one a lot. I was my first book with transgender characters and I thought it was interesting but also focused on other stuff we normally see in YA and did that mix really well. Great review!

  4. This one looks like a fantastic read! I'll be sure to add this to my TBR pile.

    Kim @ Divergent Gryffindor: BLOG || VLOG

  5. I liked this one despite a few quibbles. I still really want to read If I Was Your Girl though.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

  6. I will check it out for sure - together with If I Was Your Girl, actually. Can't believe I missed both of them!

  7. I haven't read the first one yet and I'm not quite sure that this book is for me but it makes me think of The Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Z (can't fully remember his last name?) which I loved and shared about a similar topic. So I will look into more reviews about this book before making up my mind!

    My recent review:

  8. I've never read a book like this, but it sounds really good. I have to add it to my to-read list because I think I was missing it.


Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you will share your thoughts on this post!