Title: The Art of Being Normal
Author: Lisa Williamson
Publication: May 31st 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Summary 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.
Wow.. just wow. I have to tell you, The Art of Being Normal is so far out of my comfort zone – and I think that made me love it even more than I already do. This book is a work of art itself. It is provocative, innovative, unique, and everything a contemporary novel should be. It has opened my eyes to something I knew little about. It has created a new set of standards. It is more than just diverse, it completely diverges from our idea of normal and thrusts readers into a situation some individuals experience every day of their living lives.
The Art of Being Normal focuses on David Piper (Kate), a young boy who has only ever wanted to become a girl. Even since kindergarten, he knew. When the teacher asked the class what they wanted to be when they grew up, there was a slew of standard ballerina and astronaut answers – and then there was David, who wrote something that broke the barriers of acceptable answers. While David’s closest two friends are supportive, the school treats him as a pariah and his parent have their suspicions though he hasn’t come out to them yet. This is the story of his journey and his growth – and it was beautiful.
This is one of those books that grabs you by your wrists and ankles and drags you through the muck until the end. There is no escape. You find yourself trapped, captivated, and utterly willing to keep getting muddy. While you might be uncomfortable with certain aspects of this novel, I certainly was, you shouldn’t let that deter you from delving head first into a book that demands to be read. It’s worth it. Trust me.