★★★★★ | The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
I think it says a lot about me as an individual that my attention span in these social media days seems to have dwindled to the point where if it’s more than 140 characters, I get bored.
I have a stack of great books waiting to be read, or started and tossed aside as one thing or another distracts me.
That is until this book dropped through the letterbox.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I relished an authors words so much, felt so deeply in-volved in the plot, felt it resonate on a personal level – basically, found that rare thing, a truly un-put-downable book.
The storyline is one we can all understand to some point – the slightly kooky outcast group, not the A-crowd, but individuals who have their own voices. Think a good John Hughes film (Pretty in Pink, etc) Bullied at school? Tick.Small group of geeky friends? Tick. Fancy someone you can’t have? Tick. Odd family life? Tick.
The list is endless, but Lisa Williamson, the book’s author, has the talent of drawing you in and making you feel this book could be about you (in a general sense) without detracting from her own storyline or making any of it seem trite or generic.
Putting it bluntly, she makes you feel you belong to this story – and a bloody good story it is too.
In a nutshell, it’s about 2 boys and their lives as they grow and meet. One is a troubled teen, shift-ing from school to school, not much of a family life, not much of a home, no real friends. The other is from a good family, good home, but has a deep secret and deals with it as only teenagers can, and do, daily.
David Piper has the secret, he wants to be a girl. He’s obsessed to the point of writing everything down in his book, from his penis size to how visible his Adam’s apple is, all in the name of not wanting to look like a man.
Leo Denton wants to simply be invisible. However, his first few days at his new school ensure that this is going to be impossible.
After Leo stands up for David against the school bully, an unlikely friendship begins to form and grow – but the secrets they all have are about to come out and things will never be the same.
This book isn’t another teen drama; it looks at the subjects it covers sensitively but also with humour. The subjects covered aren’t simple, and on some level may have been felt by most of us – being an outsider, wanting to belong, wanting to be invisible, fear of bullying, fear of our families, lack of friends… the list is endless but Lisa tackles these themes so well.
If you are looking for a good holiday read, pick this. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, but it’ll never bore you!
by Chris Jones