The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

Two boys. Two secrets.

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 year eleven 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…

Extract
https://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/ng-interactive/2016/jan/06/extract-the-art-of-being-normal-lisa-williamson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7M7Dm1436BY

Other books by
Lisa’s next insightful and unputdownable teen drama – All About Mia –  hits the shelves in February 2017 . A brilliant look into the mind of a teenager stuck in the middle.

About the author
Lisa Williamson was born and grew up in Nottingham. She studied drama at Middlesex University and since graduating has worked as an actor on stage and TV. Between acting jobs Lisa temped in offices across London, typing stories when no one was looking, one of which eventually became The Art of Being Normal.

Lisa now lives in North London with her boyfriend.

Author Website
http://www.lisawilliamsonauthor.com/

Author Video
https://vimeo.com/105650550

Interview with the author
http://queerya.org/2015/01/interview-art-normal-author-lisa-williamson/

If you liked this, try…
Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman
George by Alex Gino
Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
If I was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe
Every Day by David Levithan
Am I Normal yet? by Holly Bourne
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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14 thoughts on “The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

  1. At some point in everyone’s life, we look at someone of the opposite gender and think, ” I wish I was a girl/boy: they have it so much better than I do.” However, we couldn’t really imagine changing our looks, name and just about everything that shows that we are ‘us.’
    This book describes the story of two people who have done exactly that – changed their lives. I think the author described how the characters were feeling perfectly and that made me really feel the emotions and anxieties they were experiencing.

  2. I loved this book! The two intertwined storylines perfectly tell us the story from different perspectives, and this really helps to keep us informed about what is happening. The plot twist in Leo’s storyline is totally unexpected and brings an unprecedented extra dimension to the storyline.
    Beth

  3. I thought this book was brilliant! It was very moving and full of twists and turns. I loved how it was mainly about being who you are and not hiding it away or pretending to be someone else. I liked how alternate chapters were voiced by the two main characters so you could see the situation and story from different perspectives.

  4. This book concentrated on a subject that can be hard to understand. It was well-written so it was easy to accept characters like David for who they are. Once I got into the book, which was a bit hard at first, it got easier to connect with the characters. I felt that the minor characters were rather stereotypical but perhaps that’s to be expected with a book about gender roles.

  5. Sometimes, I do wish I was a boy but, when I think about it, I know I’m more comfortable as a girl. I think sometimes everyone has a moment when they wish they were someone else – like when the boys are missing a really boring lesson because they’re at a football match or something. That’s a bit stereotypical – but you get the picture! However, if someone came up to me and admitted they wanted to be the opposite gender, how would I react? It’s hard to even begin to imagine how these people feel.
    After reading the Art of Being Normal, I have a much clearer idea about what transgender children can go through. I thought that the two protagonists, Leo and David, were very credible and I liked the way the story was told from both of their perspectives. At the beginning I thought David was slightly snobby and I didn’t really warm to him. However, by the end, I liked both characters equally. Overall I thought this was a very well written book with really plausible characters and I really enjoyed reading it.

  6. This book is superb with a relevant, modern-day storyline which encompasses real-life issues. The characters were well developed and realistic. One of the best things about this book is that it breaks the taboo about gender identity issues and brings them out into the open. This is important as gender identity is a significant issue in modern society with millions of young people affected by it every day. Aside from this the engaging, fast paced plot makes it a real page turner. Katie

  7. I had read this book before it was shortlisted for NETBA and was delighted to have a reason for reading it again! It is a fresh perspective on a topic that has only fairly recently been accepted into society and it shows not only the difficulties in the process of changing gender, but also the difficulties afterwards. This is something I think often lets other books on this subject down. But for The Art of Being Normal, this is not the case.
    The other events that were going on in our main characters’ lives ensured that the book didn’t get too laborious or weighty and I found this really clever. Although Leo and David/Kate were very different in personality, they were equally likeable and their relationship was, mostly, easy and light-hearted, without the strains that some authors cram their books with. This superb, easy novel is one I would recommend to everyone!

  8. *SPOILERS*
    The Art of Being Normal is a fantastic example of the good that books can spread. Often an inaccessible subject that much of the ADULT population are apathetic about, to be able to normalise two transgender protagonists in a way that appeals to teenagers is no mean feat. This book nails it.

    As an occupational hazard of normalisation, the book did (at some points) teeter on the edge of becoming mundane or using the fact that the characters were transgender as the only plot point. However, this does feel like nit-picking and the book as a whole has strong characterisation, intelligent, dynamic scene changes and time shifts, and holds back enough information from the reader in the right places to create an atmosphere of interest and page-turning intrigue. As I said however, it doesn’t keep this level up throughout.

    All in all, I got plenty from this book and I would recommend it, however it’s not faultless.

    8/10

  9. I wasn’t keen on reading this book when I knew what it was about – but I’m really glad I did!
    It’s beautifully written and concentrates on an often ignored subject. I thought the characters were very realistic and I really admired their attitude to life. I thought that the author rushed the book a little because she didn’t give us more on Leo’s dad. I had waited a long time for him to appear because I really wanted to know how he was going to react and this was disappointing .
    Apart from this, I liked the plot and the ending. It is a really emotional and controversial book and I’d recommend it.

  10. The Art of Being Normal is a heart-warming book unlike any I have read before. I found it easy to empathise with and relate to the characters, especially David and Leo, as they were so credible. I loved the mystery surrounding Leo when he first came into the story. This put loads of ideas in my head as to whether or not there was a link between him and David.
    I liked the ending but I would have liked more detail about the reactions of other members of the school, for example, Harry. I would recommend this book to anyone.

  11. I loved this book because it was a unique tale that tells you that it’s ok to not be normal and makes the reader more aware about gender. The only thing I would have liked to see is for the story to have continued a little longer so we can find out how people reacted to David turning into Kate. I liked reading about the supportive friendships and I also liked the plot twist at the end.
    Overall, this book was very good and it is definitely my favourite so far!

  12. This is a beautifully written, unique story that raises awareness of gender identity while also covering the hardships that come with being ‘different’.
    The plot was fairly simple but I still felt immersed in everything that was happening and the level of emotion that the author presented made it easy to connect with the characters and events. Though the characters had a hard time, especially David/Kate, I feel the author cut the story a little too soon. I would have liked to have seen the reaction of the people who bullied David once he returned as Kate. Although I liked the ending as it was sweet and almost forgiving, I think something to show that David was able to conquer his fears would have created a little more of an impact.
    I also think that the author departed down ‘side-stories’ instead of connecting everything together. The situation between Leo and his dad, for example, could have been woven in with the plot a little better. However, at the same time, I think that this part of the story was crucial to the development of David and Leo’s relationship.
    Overall, the story was a pleasant read and I would recommend it to anyone who has never tried anything like this before.

  13. Haven’t read this book yet but if the synopsis is anything to go by, then this should be an excellent read. Just what you need to get your brain thinking and to change one’s outlook on the ever changing world!

  14. This book was absolutely amazing! There were so many plot twists and unexpected events. It made me want to cry and laugh at the same time. All the characters were so different, yet so similar. I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it.
    Tara

    This book is a NECESSITY. Two different stories that are somehow connected; two different bodies and two different minds; two different worlds that collide. The reason that this book is a necessity is because it is necessary in the society that we live in today. There are so many problems and crises in the LGBTQ+ society and, particularly, being transgender should be taken more seriously, as today many people suffer from traumatic bullying and try to commit suicide because of it; because of their identity. This is why “The Art of Being Normal” is of great importance, and puts everything into perspective. The emotions and struggles and chaos that are presented in this book amplify the need for people having respect for those who are transgender and are scared because of who they are. If they want to be someone else, let them be: and this book will show you why. I love the stories and the true messages that this book provides, along with changing lives and encouraging the feelings that will spread more positivity in society- which is needed very much.
    Mayisha

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