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The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
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The Art of Being Normal

by Lisa Williamson

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me ha durado horas ( )
  dieciseislunas | Jun 2, 2019 |
Full review including details of her talk at the Cambridge Literary Festival on my blog at https://kyrosmagica.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/my-kyrosmagica-review-of-the-art-of...

This is without any doubt one of my favourite books. It made me cry, it made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me frown, it made me want to punch Harry the school bully when he calls David “freak show.” Thank goodness Lisa Williamson gave David the guts to demonstrate that he isn’t a complete pushover. He retaliates calling Harry’s girlfriend “Bubble Brain.” Way to go!

A veritable rainbow of emotions flickered through me as I read The Art of Being Normal. I love the main characters in the book, David and Leo. All the subsidiary characters are exceptionally well crafted and believable too.

Lisa Williamson does an amazing job of creating a sense of the warmth and cosiness in David’s family life which is then artfully contrasted with Leo’s “dilapidated” council estate, in Cloverdale. The two boys develop an unlikely, and in Leo’s sense unwilling relationship. At first Leo is reluctant to get involved with anyone, this is his way of coping, his self-protection mechanism. We learn that he has been expelled from Cloverdale school. When Leo’s sister mentions the word “normal” he goes into an internal verbal tirade. Here’s some short quotes from the tirade: “I’ve spent my whole life being told I’m the complete opposite of ‘normal’. “Normal. I say it over and over again as I pace up and down…”

Cloverdale has such a “hard” reputation that all the kids at his new “posh” school Eden Park think he is a tough nut. But this is just a veneer, Leo has a secret, and so has David, and ultimately this is what will draw the two of them together.

The secrets in Eden Park School, and in the lives of these two families are poised on a precarious precipice edge, waiting for that moment when they cannot be contained any more and have to be released into the world. Of course when David reveals his true self, the effect is potent, painful, irreversible and life changing.

This is without doubt a remarkable debut from Lisa Williamson. As soon as I started reading The art of Being Normal I was struck by the voice of the novel. The reader becomes immersed in Lisa’s words because I do believe that Lisa really cares about Transgender kids and this empathy shines out in her writing. When I reached the halfway mark I wondered if the novel had more to give, would it progress at the same pace or would it turn up a notch or two? Well I wasn’t disappointed, the narrative cranked up and the revelations, particularly David’s, were such tear jerkers. Yes I was crying like a baby! His family’s response was just so heart-warming, you just have to read this book! Leo’s family life had an unexpected revelation about his mother too that I just didn’t see coming. David’s best friends Essie and Felix, are such a cute couple and I love how they do everything they can to make David feel special.

The art of being normal tackles so many issues that are not just solely relatable to the experience of Transgender kids, bullying, friendship, family, life’s difficulties growing up, and life’s hard knocks, these are all there for everyone to relate to.

The writing is so spot on, the dialogue is so natural, the settings are interesting and novel. I particularly enjoyed how Lisa Williamson set some of the scenes of the book in a disused swimming pool, culminating “in the very first Alternative Eden Park Christmas Ball,” the liberating but heart-breaking trip to Tripton-on-Sea, the wonderful time in Tripton’s bingo hall and pub these were just some of the many highlights for me.

A 5 star read. Highly recommended for readers of Young Adult, Contemporary, and Glbt.
( )
  marjorie.mallon | Mar 27, 2019 |
The two outsiders with two secrets. David longs to be a girl. Leo wants to be invisible. When Leo stands up for David against a bully an unlikely friendship forms. But secrets have a nasty habit of getting out at school ( )
  AccyP | Nov 19, 2018 |
It took about 4 chapters, but then I got into the book. Unfortunately, I can't put it on our bookshelves because it has too many details about taboo topics here in JO. However, I'm giving it to the counseling office, as I really don't know who struggles with the issue of gender identity in our school. I have a suspicion there are a few kids who might benefit from reading this book. The only thing that seemed a bit off in the book to me was the parents' acceptance of their children's choices. What stood out overall, though, is that no matter who you are, finding a group of people who will accept you for who you are - normal or not - is what props up everyone. Here's to courageous choices and even more courageous friends. Recommended 16 . ( )
  MsKathleen | Jan 29, 2018 |
Clearly I am still on my LGBT fiction kick. I read this book in a day because it was so compelling. David doesn’t know how to tell anyone other than his two closest friends that he’s really a girl. Classmates tease him incessantly, and once the new kid, Leo, stands up for him, David’s found a new friend. David feels a deep connection with Leo, but isn’t sure why until they take a spontaneous trip and bond. ( )
  howifeelaboutbooks | Jan 9, 2018 |
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One afternoon, when I was eight years old, my class was told to write what we wanted to be when we grew up.
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David Piper, always an outsider, forms an unlikely friendship with Leo Denton who, from the first day at his new school wants only to be invisible, but when David's deepest secret gets out, that he wants to be a girl, things get very messy for both of them.… (more)

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