Review of The Art Of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Published: 1st January 2015
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Pages: 360


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 11 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…


David and Leo are two very different boys: David’s life is a well hidden secret from everyone minus his two best friends, he lives in a lovely home with two parents who love him yet he’s seen as an outcast to everyone at school. Leo’s life is reflected as normal to everyone apart from his family who really know the truth, he was brought up by a single-parent family who he blames everything for. Upon reading the first chapters, I understood completely that David and Leo had issues of their own yet to me, they came across as normal.

“Because ‘normal’ kids don’t have six files’ worth of notes on them. ‘Normal’ kids don’t see therapists. ‘Normal’ kids don’t have mothers like mine, who tell you life isn’t fair with messed-up glee, like the unfairness of life is pretty much the only thing they know for sure. I’ve spent my whole life being told I’m the complete opposite of ‘normal.'”

As the narrative progresses and their friendship develops, secrets begin to spill out. David is the kind of friend who you would happily want in your life – he’s a bundle of fun and he’s always there for you even if you don’t need him. He came across as a very strong character and you can’t help but love him. I definitely enjoyed Leo’s side of the story, but honestly, I think I preferred David’s as we saw it develop a lot more.

“How can it be a party without jelly and ice cream?”

When life is thrown upside down for Leo, the only thing he knows what to do is run away and naturally, David opts to go with him as moral support. Yet, just like real life, it doesn’t always go according to plan. There were a lot of up and down moments throughout the book but in reality, it would be the exact same. Not everything is peachy-keen, jelly bean and I really like the fact that Lisa portrayed that in the plot.

“The bottom line is, I survived the week. And if I can survive one week, I can survive more.”

Overall, I absolutely loved this book and it will definitely be featuring in my 2016 Book Favourites! Lisa writes with such passion and with a subject such as transgender being centre stage, it is a chance for others to understand the topic a bit better. We’ve grown to understand it better with Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn yet sometimes, it helps to read about it in order to follow the thought process a bit more. I would love it if Lisa wrote a book continuing David’s journey – I would read it, for certain!

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