An unbelievable story of two transgender teens who support each other through high school.
Williamson, Lisa. The Art of Being Normal. Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, 2016.
* Because both David and Leo present as male throughout this book, I will be using male pronouns for both, although I realize that David (soon to be Kate) will eventually identify as female.
David is an outsider at school. His family and classmates think he's gay, and he's bullied endlessly at school. But David isn't gay; David is transgender, and he is working up the courage to tell his family that he wants to transition. Leo, on the other hand, has left his old school to start a new school and new life. He's hoping to fly under the radar at his new school, in spite of the rumors about him. David is desperate to be friends with Leo, which would prevent Leo from remaining invisible.
This was an interesting enough story, but it doesn't stand out among novels about trans* teens. David's story was pretty typical: he hid women's clothing in his closet, had already come out to a couple of close friends, and was working up the courage to tell his parents, who ended up being very supportive. Leo, on the other hand, was an oddity: his family was not well-off, he didn't seem to have a good relationship with his mother, but somehow he was able to go stealth and present male at school. He also had regular meetings with a counselor and was on hormone blockers, but his family couldn't afford to have food in the cupboard? Unless Leo had some sort of wonderful government medical assistance, I don't buy it. Hormone blockers are expensive, and there was never any mention of his family choosing to starve so he could transition. That, along with the magical coincidence of two trans* teens meeting at school and not at a trans* therapy group, made this book a bit too Disney-esque to be a good reflection of reality. However, there are few enough books featuring trans* characters, so this one will appear on my library's shelves.
Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: bullying, the teens go to several pubs/bars - nothing graphic is mentioned about anyone's transition; transphobic and homophobic slurs
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars
Read-Alike Suggestions: Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen, Run, Clarissa, Run,Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley for the purposes of review.