Lisa Williamson – The Art of Being Normal

After such a terrible last book, I needed something to perk me up. And this book was brilliant. Not the kind of book I usually read, but something about it just made me pick it up in the supermarket and I’m so glad I did.

The book runs from two parallel perspectives; David, who longs to be a girl; and Leo, who longs to be invisible. They’re both hiding secrets from their families and the world in general, but may have more in common than they think.

When Leo sticks up for David when he’s being picked on yet again (‘Oi, Freakshow’ is a familiar theme tune to his school life), they strike up what seems to be an unlikely (and reluctant) friendship.

But as the story evolves, it turns out that their friendship is not quite so unlikely after all, and each of them could be just what the other needs to achieve what they want in life (even if what they get is not exactly what they originally thought they wanted).

If you’re looking for an easy read, this isn’t it. It packed an emotional punch, heart warming yet jarring. The book was gripping the entire way through, evidenced by the fact I read it in one sitting, sat on the sofa for four hours unable to let Leo and David go and with a powerful need to know how their lives would turn out.

Williamson did a great job of creating characters who you could instantly relate to, even if their situation is not relatable to you. The topic of gender binaries is not something that I’ve had much to do with, and I’m still not sure where I stand with it, but Williamson has done a great job of handling the subject matter with sensitivity and kindness.

My rating: 5/5Average rating: 4.24
353 pages. Published in: 2015
Read in Paperbackon 11th September 2016

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