by Lisa Williamson
To be published on May 31, 2016
by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
Source: ARC from publisher for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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 his class is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long , and soon everyone knows that Leo used to be a girl. As David prepares to come out to his family and transition into life as a girl and Leo wrestles with figuring out how to deal with people who try to define him through his history, they find in each other the friendship and support they need to navigate life as transgender teens as well as the courage to decide for themselves what normal really means.My take: This is the second book I've read this month that featured transgender characters. (You can read my review of If I Was Your Girl here.) While that book was more of a classic YA romance, The Art of Being Normal felt more to me like a coming of age story.
David can barely bring himself to say the words: I wish I were a girl. He examines his body in secret, distressed as it becomes more and more masculine as the months go by. His parents know that he's struggling with some kind of identity issue, but he fears that if he tells them the truth, they won't understand or be supportive. Leo is further along in his transition, but as he starts a new school, begins a relationship with a beautiful fellow student and keeps trying to find the father who abandoned him, will he be able to find acceptance and love?
I loved the writing in this book - it was really engaging and easy to read. I thought it was interesting that the book featured two characters at different points in their transition process. As I said in my review of If I Was Your Girl, I think stories like these that feature themes of self-discovery and the search for love and self-acceptance can really resonate with a broad range of YA readers while also offering perspectives and characters that aren't typically featured in YA.
I enjoyed this one a lot - be sure to check it out!