Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Art of Being Normal

The Art of Being Normal
By Lisa Williamson
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016. 334 pages. Young Adult

David Piper has always been an outsider with a big secret: since he was a child, David has wanted to be a girl. New student Leo Denton has a secret of his own, and his goal of keeping a low profile starts to go south when he attracts the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But when David's secret gets out, things get very complicated for both of them. David struggles to find support as he prepares to come out and transition: to find a new name and begin living a truth that has been kept secret for too long.

I would highly recommend this uplifting coming-of-age novel to cisgender readers -- people who identify with the gender assigned to them at birth -- who want to learn more about gender identity and what it means to be transgender, as well as the unique challenges placed before trans youth. Williamson doesn't sugarcoat the harsh realities of being a trans teen, including internalized transphobia. However, the overall message is one of hope, with the feeling that even if you can’t get everything you want, you can get what you need.

DT

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