Williamson, Lisa The Art of Being Normal, 344 pages. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016. $17.99. Language: R (48 swears, 1 'F'); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.
David is a transgender teenager who has felt like an outsider his entire life. He has a good family, two best friends he trusts with his deepest secret (he wants to be a girl), but he is desperately lonely. Leo is a new boy at school with a "bad boy" reputation, but one day he stands up for David against a school bully and they come to develop a friendship. As Leo slowly lets David into his life, secrets he has tried to keep hidden come to light and David discovers that he is not as alone in his transgender existence as he once imagined. And Leo learns that reaching out is not as terrible as he might have thought.
I really loved this book. It is well written and the characters are instantly believable, interesting, and likeable. The subject matter might strike readers as being a tad different, but overall it reads like a typical Young Adult coming-of-age novel and I loved that this story of two transgender kids does not have to be over-the-top and in-your-face. There is discussion of sex and gender-specific body parts, some fairly harsh bullying, as well as the ever-present discussion of transgender issues so the ratings are PG-13. I think this book should be in every high school library, but I know there are some communities that will not be so open to it.
HS--ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: TC