Today I bring you a review of a very interesting book. It’s The Art Of Being Normal, by Lisa Williamson.
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(ps. For the sake of this review, I’ll be referring to David using he/his pronouns since they’re the ones used during the majority of the book)
This book has been in several LGBTQ+ lists and honestly, I’m always down for books of that genre. I was lucky to be accepted for an early copy.
This books focus on two characters and their unlike friendship: David, a boy born in the wrong body and Leo, the new boy in school.
When I finished the book I felt like I liked it but it grows on me the more I think of it.
I wasn’t really blown away for the plot. It’s not very exciting and it’s not very innovative either. For the most part, nothing really happens. And I wasn’t that blown away by the writing too. It’s pretty ok, but very unimpressive. What definitely stood out to me were the characters and the message.
David and Leo were absolutely lovely. They’re wonderful in their own ways and both their experiences are very valid, specially when it comes to transsexuality. I felt a more intense relation with Leo but I though the passes with David dressing in the clothes he really identifies with were so genuine and beautiful. I think his thoughts on feeling uncomfortable with this body and other things related to being transsexual were pretty on point and specially really well explained and comprehensible for someone who is cisgender as myself. I’m talking less about Leo because I feel like that would be a bit spoilery but there’s a lot of lovely moments with him as well. Don’t get me wrong, the main characters aren’t the only ones that are awesome. I really liked everyone else, except the asshole bullies, of course.
I’ve read books with trans characters but never one in prose or with a character going through the whole coming out and transition experience. Like I said, I think the bits specially dedicated to that were very beautiful and careful with the character’s feelings and everyone else who might be going through the same. I read that the author worked in a facility specialised in helping trans people come to terms with themselves and get the help they need, and that totally shows.
The criticism that I’ve seen regarding this is related to the not that inclusive approach on the topic. Yes, although this is a story about transsexuality, it is very binary centred. I can see how that’s upsetting since there’s many other forms of transsexuality. This is not everyone’s story but I don’t think it tries to be. In my opinion, this is a topic that needs a lot of steps to become a very well explored themed. This book doesn’t try to be perfect in that sense, it only wants to help people. It wants to explain the topic to cis people and make trans come to terms and maybe understand themselves a bit better, put in words what they may be going through and don’t know how to explain. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe this is really is a cis gender person view on a thing I don’t fully understand. But I think this book should be praised and appreciated since it’s a very nice accomplishment.
My only personal problem with the book was the whole plot with Leo’s mom. She’s kinda abusive and definitely a person in a very bad moment but there’s never really an explanation or reason for her to act as she does. Her bullying moments seemed very unnecessary throughout the story and they honestly annoyed me.
In summary, I though this was a very beautiful and cute book. I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t really feel comfortable with their genre and wants to take the next step to understand it better. I would also recommend it to cisgender/binary people.
Have any of you read this book? What were your thoughts on it? Let me know below!
As always, see you next time,