The Art of Being Normal is told from the dual point of view of David, who was born a boy but knows in his heart that he’s really a girl, and Leo, a new student who arrives at David’s school with a troubled history. David is immediately drawn to Leo for reasons he can’t explain and tries to befriend him, but Leo tries to keep him at a distance.
This is a very good read for people who are not trans but are looking to understand the struggles a transgendered teen might experience today, when media is beginning to talk more openly about being transgendered but it’s still not entirely socially accepted.
SPOILER ALERT – Even though it’s not really a spoiler for anyone who reads the description closely (unlike me).
Somehow I missed the part in the book’s description that read ‘they find in each other the friendship and support they need to navigate life as transgender teens’. While reading The Art of Being Normal, I wasn’t aware at first that Leo was also transgendered, and the reveal worked. Suddenly I understood Leo and everything he had to lose. I ached for him when his secret was revealed at school and all the kids began to taunt him. I understood his desire to run away. David’s story was a bit slower and really shone near the end when he finally came out to his parents, who I think react exactly like parents who want to be supportive but are caught off guard would, and when he went to the dance dressed as his true self. It was a brave move and I’m not sure I would have been able to do it at sixteen.
I found this novel to be uplifting and inspiring and give it 5 stars!