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The Art of Being Normal

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  16,693 ratings  ·  2,361 reviews
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 t
Hardcover, 353 pages
Published January 1st 2015 by David Fickling Books
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Jude I must say, as a trans guy I related to Leo almost immediately and to Kate in several ways I didn't expect. Being trans enby or binary is a very colle…moreI must say, as a trans guy I related to Leo almost immediately and to Kate in several ways I didn't expect. Being trans enby or binary is a very collective experience that has so many of it's own personal details and I think you did an amazing job of writing the story of these two.(less)

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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  16,693 ratings  ·  2,361 reviews

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Neo Caduceus
Apr 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
I'm a trans person and when I saw this book I was super excited. It had a cool cover and a premise I was personally interested in.
However, once I started reading I was honestly very disappointed.

I know that trans people have different experiences and points of view on their gender, but so many things about this book seemed off to me.

The book isn't written by a trans person, and that was my first clue.
In the blurb: "Two boys." and "David wants to be a girl."
Being trans isn't about wanting to be
Aug 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
It's been a while since I read this but I feel there's two things I should point out that really bothered me about the book. 1) Leo is a trans guy but him being trans is treated as a plot twist, and is found out when a girl he likes sees his genitalia. Not a fan of that. 2) Kate (called by her birth name for most of the book) is referred to by he/him pronouns by Leo in his internal monologue after he finds out she's a trans girl but only refers to her as 'she' when she's wearing feminine clothin ...more
David longs to be a girl. David is a girl who longs for acceptance.

The Art of Being Normal was not what I had expected. I would say that this is a good introduction for someone who wants to know more about life as a transgender kid and adolescent. It is a heartfelt novel, for sure, but not a perfect one.

I had difficulties connecting with the characters, especially with David. She is 15 years old if I am not mistaken, but she acts like a 12-year-old. In most situations, David and her friends seem
Jul 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
I'm not transgender, but even I can see how terrible the author dealt with the characters transness. The story is about the transgender girl Kate who is closeted (and goes by David for most of the book) and the transgender boy Leo who is not out at his new school. The two of them form an unlikely friendship and that's basically what the story is about. I thought the story itself was - except for some problematic things I'll remark on later on - really fun and just
Reading Corner
Apr 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I couldn't finish this,it deals with an incredibly important issue and relevant topic in today's society but the book just felt like a generic ya book.I wanted to read this book for the trans character and to see how well the story would deal with the issue but after 110 pages I couldn't even really get to the core issue because the writing,dialogue and story were so painfully cliche.The story screams American cliche high school trash that we see in so many media outlets and the book isn't even ...more
Sarah Churchill
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bullying
Fantastic. Highly recommended.

The Art of Being Normal is the story of a transgender character named David, and his journey to finally telling his family (and the rest of the world) that he wishes to be referred to as Kate, and would like to begin transitioning.

I have to be honest and say that I don't believe I've read a book about a transgender character before, certainly not as the main focus of the story. I know they exist, so it's either down to my own lack of diverse reading or a distinct l
Feb 04, 2015 rated it liked it
I’m transgender myself and I work with transgender youth, so of course I’m bringing that to the table. I didn’t hate this book – in fact, I quite liked large parts of it, but there are a few issues that drag it down. One of them was that I don't feel like it was written with transgender people in mind as a part of the key audience, unless they're teenagers still trying to figure out even the most basic things. But at the same time, it's a bit of a narrow representation of transgender people.

Stacey (prettybooks)
You must have heard about The Art of Being Normal by now and, if not, I'm not sure how you have managed to miss it. Published on 1st January, it's one of the most talked about UKYA novels published this year so far, and has certainly set a high standard.

Fourteen-year-old David Piper has only told two people – his two best friends, Essie and Fox, who have both been incredibly supportive – that he has wanted, needed, to be a girl ever since he was a small child. David has written a letter to his p
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Thomas by: Liisabet
3.5 stars

Loved the introductory exploration of trans issues in this book, even if it faltered in other areas. The Art of Being Normal follows two protagonists who both go to Eden Park School: David Piper, a biological male who has always wanted to be a girl, and Leo Denten, an outsider with dark secrets of his own. Though the two seem quite different - David, more reserved and wistful, Leo, more moody and confrontational - a twist of fate brings them together in ways neither of them expect.

I app
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016, lgbt, ukya
I don't think I've ever been so happy to finish a book. And I don't mean that in a bad way, I literally finished the book with the biggest grin on my face, content with the ending and slightly wanting more Kate (David) and Leo. I'm so glad this book was mainly focused on finding ones true self, as well as true friendship. You know, the type of friendship you'll have for life.

However, I also have to be open and honest to the slightly problematic aspects of the book too. Do I think this represent
Jul 17, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sigh. Another disappointment crossed off the TBR. I was so excited to read this, especially after seeing so many rave reviews, but unfortunately this was a story that did not make it on my memorable list.

My main issue with THE ART OF BEING NORMAL is that it's a tale of transgender teens told by a cisgender author. Now admittedly, I knew that from the beginning but I was optimistic that it may have worked out. I believe in giving authors the benefit of the doubt until I've seen the proof in their
Edit 2019: After reading reviews from transgender readers, I am lowering my rating to 2 stars. I rather encourage readers to read books, written by trans instead of cis authors, with a more accurate representation of what it is like to be trans, such as George, Peter Darling or Dreadnought.

"Besides, who wants to be normal anyway? Fancy that on your gravestone. ‘Here lies so-and-so. They were entirely normal.’”

A sweet YA-story with a couple of amazing diverse characters, although the st
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever finished a book and thought…that it was IMPORTANT? That the story that’s being told is one that everyone should hear? That’s how I felt about “The Art of Being Normal”. I feel like everyone NEEDS to read this. It’s an important message about our society today. And it it’s just a damn fine book, too.

David has a secret. He hasn’t told his family. He hasn’t come out to the world with it. Only his best friends, and his trusty journal know the truth. If he could be anything in the world
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
After reading reviews by transgender readers, I'm lowering my rate of this book. ...more
Kathy - Books & Munches
I wrote "The Good"-part of my review before reading other reviews, own voices-reviews. That's the sole reason I'm still going to stick with everything I wrote first in this part. Beware of "The Bad", though. There's a whole lot coming your way over there.


I flew through this book. Whether it's the content, the plot, the story line or the writing - I don't care. I absolutely flew through it and loved every second of doing so. The Art of Being Normal spoke to me in a way I didn't expect. I
Emily (emilykatereads)
This is one of those times I'm kicking myself for not even reading the book description before buying it. I saw a rainbow book for only $2 so of course I bought it on a whim without taking the time to read the back of the book.

If I had only read the description beforehand I would've immediately put it down.
"David wants to be a girl."
That line says it all. It doesn't get better throughout the book either. The trans girl character is continuously referred to as just a boy who wants to be a girl,
Emily Cait
Mar 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book really highlights why we need own voices novels...
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was really pleasantly surprised by this book. I've been hearing a lot about it and on my quest to read more UKYA (since it's where I'm from and I want to support the UKYA scene) I decided to pick it up. I am so happy that I did as it is one of those stories that I completely devoured.

David is fourteen years old and has known since he was a child that he is really a female stuck inside a male body. His two best friends are the only ones to know and he is struggling to find the right way to tel
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book is really important. There are so many people out there today struggling with gender identity and the desperate need to be looked at as "normal" because they do not fit into the specific and constricting constructs of society and it is just heartbreaking. Before this book, i did not have that much of an insight into transgender struggles. Even if this book is purely fiction, it still did open my eyes to some of the struggles in an honest simple prose imbued with complex depths. I real
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's high time the world of YA fiction had a real contender in the T corner of the LGBT spectrum, and Lisa Williamson stands up to the plate magnificently.

'The Art Of Being Normal' follows David, who stumbles through the minefield of high school and puberty knowing in his heart that everything is wrong... because he wants to be a girl, knows he is supposed to be girl. Navigating bullies gets a little easier for him though with a well aimed punch from Leo Denton, who struggles alongside David wit
Larry H
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Lisa Williamson's The Art of Being Normal is a moving, well-written reminder of how brutal, yet how beautiful, the world can be to those who are different.

David Piper has really never fit in. Apart from his two best friends, most of his fellow high school students ridicule him for being different. One of the school bullies has called him "Freak Show" since they were younger, but David is willing to wait him out until high school ends. His parents think he is gay, and are waiting for him to t
Odette Brethouwer
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Oh, this is one cute diversity read! I highly recommend this if you love Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda!

Just like in Simon, in this book it is about a diversity character, in this case a trans, but without the book being written in a learny way. You get to know David and you learn what it's like to be trapped in the wrong body because he is.

And I also like Leo a lot! And I like how, at least in the Dutch version, the different point of views are indicated with different fonts. I really like
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There are some books you're proud of. This is one of those for me.

It's not the perfect book, but it's heartbreakingly beautiful, and emotional, and heartfelt. It's outstanding.

Please, everyone. Read it.
Lee Farnell
Dec 28, 2014 rated it liked it
When I first picked up this book I had really high hopes for it. The idea of a young transgender protagonist was really appealing and (as fickle as this may be) I love the cover. It's what drew me in.

Having just finished the book, my overall thoughts are good, but not great.

Story wise I really enjoyed it. I think the overall story was great. Both David and Leo are wonderful characters and I loved their inner monologues of their struggle with being transgender; they were thoughtful and they wer
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
★ 2016 AtY Reading Challenge ★: A book from the Goodreads Recommendations page.

The Art of Being Normal was poorly written at best.
I'm not talking about the cringe-worthy dialogues here, I'm talking about the actual execution and development of the main themes. This book was full of trans-phobic tropes.
Becky (Blogs of a Bookaholic)
Oct 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: 12+ who enjoy books exploring friendships, bullying & gender identity.
This review was originally published on Blogs of a Bookaholic.

An amazing step forward in diversity in publishing, not such a step forward in engrossing storytelling.
As both a reader and a psychology student, I’m always on the lookout for YA books that tackle serious topics and incorporate them into stories, whether that’s mental health, rare disorders or, in this case, gender identity. As a student, I was lucky enough to cover gender as a topic and it really opened my eyes, so I was excited to d
Lucy Powrie
The buzz around the release of The Art of Being Normal has been crazy! So many of my trusted friends and fellow reviewers have loved it so the pressure was on when I chose to read it myself.

Williamson has created a novel I wish had been written years ago. It’s incredibly brave – I don’t think there’s anything too similar to it published at the moment – and it stands out because of its themes and content. However, I’m sad because I wish there were more books just like The Art of Being Normal. I’m
- ̗̀meg ̖́-
I first read this book a few months ago and I thought it was a definite 5-star read. However now that I've re-read it, I really don't like it as much as before. I think (more than anything) Leo's character annoyed me a lot, I think he was rude and arrogant and Megan deserves better. I thought the ending felt oddly forced and unrealistic. However, it was a book that tackled lgbt issues well and I would recommend to anyone who wants to know what it truly feels like to be transgender; I think that ...more
Feb 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, own
You know, I'm pretty torn about this book.

The simplistic writing was, quite frankly, a disappointment. I get that this is supposed to attract an even younger audience and that too much prose can be appalling, but this was a bit too simple for me. Showing instead of telling, starting ten sentences with 'I' right after each other.

Other than that, the story and characters were pretty okay. I far from regret reading it, and the perspective is very interesting (from a closeted trans person), but
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia, best-ya
This book is so precious, I just want to hug Leo & David ( Kate) until they threaten to call the cops. The Art of Being Normal is about David Piper a teenager who's designated gender at birth was male, but is really with all his being a girl. Being female is something I take for granted. I was born a girl, I live my life as girl. My gender just isn't something I give much thought too, but this book made me wonder what it would be like to feel & like all the same things I like now ( clothes, jewe ...more
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the families 2 16 Oct 30, 2017 09:30AM  
YA LGBT Books: * Sept 2016 BotM - LGBTQ+ - The Art of Being Normal - spoilers 26 138 Sep 16, 2016 06:13AM  
♥!The Young Adult...: The Art of Being Normal 1 22 Jan 31, 2016 09:16PM  
Transgender Teens 1 57 Feb 03, 2015 02:55AM  

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Lisa was born in Nottingham in 1980. She spent most of her childhood drawing, daydreaming and making up stories in her head (but never getting round to writing them down). As a teenager she was bitten by the acting bug and at 19 moved to London to study drama at university.

Following graduation, Lisa adopted the stage name of Lisa Cassidy and spent several happy and chaotic years occasionally gett

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