Book Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson


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Title: The Art of Being Normal
Author:  Lisa Williamson
Hardback: 275 pages
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star icon star icon star icon

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This was an amazing book representing transgender. We see through dual POV, David who has wanted to be a girl ever since he was young and Leo who is the new student at David’s school; Eden Park School – a rich, prep school – Leo just wants to be invisible and get through the school year. But, the school starts buzzing when they find out that something happened at Leo’s old school bringing him to Eden Park.

David has great friends, who know that he wants to transition but he struggles at times being the third wheel since the two are dating. David has also not told his family about wanting to transition because of fear to how they will react, especially his father.

Leo is a mystery, so I am not going to say too much on him. But, I loved his story because it was so mysterious. We get to meet his family and their past history. He’s on the hunt to find his father, who left them when he and his sister were born.

I really just loved this story and everything it had in it. Especially, the friendship that evolves between Leo and David when Leo stands up to the bully David is trying to fight off. Leo was my favorite character, but I liked David’s family and friends. They were fun and very friendly. David has a very accepting coming out to his family however, it felt realistic as the parents build up emotions toward David and they don’t understand completely. The ending was bittersweet and had me smiling for David and for Leo.

I really enjoyed this because it was different and it didn’t focus heavily on a romance. It focused more on David and Leo’s lives, personalities and their future. This is a brief review because I do not want to spoil the book!

Between 2010 and 2012, I worked as an administrator at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), based at the world-famous Tavistock Centre in North London. GIDS is the NHS service for under-eighteens struggling with their gender identity. The young people who used the service inspired me to write a story from the point of view of a transgender teenager. This eventually became The Art of Being Normal.  http://www.lisawilliamsonauthor.com/about.html 
The Art of Being Normal is not an own voices book. However, the representation comes from the author, Lisa Williamson’s’ experience working as an administrator at a Gender Identity Development Service. If you’re looking for a book that features transgender, I really recommend this one. Also, if you enjoyed, IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo, you’ll like this one.

Book Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom


 

Title: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful 
Author:  Eric Lindstrom
ARC Paperback: 275 pages
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Mental Health Awareness, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star icon star icon

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In the vein of It’s Kind of a Funny Story and All the Bright Places, comes a captivating, immersive exploration of life with mental illness.

For sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan, bipolar disorder makes life unpredictable. Her latest struggle is balancing her growing feelings in a new relationship with her instinct to keep everyone at arm’s length. And when a former friend confronts Mel with the truth about the way their relationship ended, deeply buried secrets threaten to come out and upend her shaky equilibrium.

As the walls of Mel’s compartmentalized world crumble, she fears the worst–that her friends will abandon her if they learn the truth about what she’s been hiding. Can Mel bring herself to risk everything to find out?

In A Tragic Kind of Wonderful, Eric Lindstrom, author of the critically acclaimed Not If I See You First, examines the fear that keeps us from exposing our true selves, and the courage it takes to be loved for who we really are.


This book is one of my most anticipated releases of 2017 and I absolutely loved Lindstrom’s debut novel, Not If I See You First. There may be some spoilers in this review because I just read it and I have all of my thoughts running from my mind! If you haven’t read the book, you can still read this review but just a warning some minor spoilers. But, I did try to make this as spoiler free as possible.

In A Tragic Kind of Wonderful,we meet Mel who is dealing with bipolar disorder and hiding it from her friends to be “normal”. She’s also hiding another big secret, that she has a brother, Nolan.

I really loved the parent/aunt relationships that Mel has with her mother and Aunt Joan (HJ). I barely see parents in Young Adult books and I love when I see parental relationships amongst the main character. Hurricane Joan really stood out to me and I am so glad she was apart of this story.

My most favorite thing about Lindstrom and his stories are that they are female characters. As he is a male author, he always nails his female characters to the fullest. I always appreciate the realistic side to Contemporary stories, for instance in A Tragic Kind of Wonderful, Mel gets her period. This had me cheering!!

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Especially that this novel is written by a MALE AUTHOR. It’s such a real thing and I applaud Lindstrom for this. (Thank you!!!) Mel felt so real and raw in this story, and I really loved her, she was super relatable just like Lindstrom’s other character, Parker.

” I have a date tonight”

She stops to look at me, eyebrows raised.

“With my soulmate…Netflix” (46, Lindstrom)

Going off of this book being realistic, Mel works at the old folks home, Silver Sands Suites and forms relationships with the residents such as a new resident, Ms. Li and Mr. Terrance Knight. I loved seeing how Mel felt so comfortable when she was surrounded by these people. Also, leading to a new friend, David. I rarely see characters with a job, I loved that Mel had a job.

I really like how Lindstrom NEVER focuses primarily on the romance in his stories. This book also did that, we do see her interest progress with David but it isn’t the main focus of the story. The main focus is Mel and her bipolar disorder. Their relationship felt real, especially the fact that Mel didn’t want to get close to him.

Mel experiences lots of high school drama with her past friends – Zumi, Connor and Annie – and we see her new friends (who are the bomb I love them) Holly and Declan. This is such a diverse friend group and I loved them. They do things like, Movie Roulette where they basically movie hop and it’s hilarious! I really liked seeing the way things went between Mel and her past friends, Zumi and Connor. Also, the exploring of sexuality between to females. It was AWESOME.

“Spoiler!” someone yells, laughing.

“Snape kills Dumbledore!”

“Shut UP!”

Roars of laughter and a room divided. Holly covers her eyes with one hand. (54, Lindstrom)

As for bipolar disorder representation, I cannot comment on the accurate representation because I haven’t had any experiences with bipolar disorder. However, I really did like seeing Mel’s “animals” at the beginnings of every chapter – for those who haven’t read it, Mel describes her mind, heart and , as well as her visits with Dr. Oswald and Dr. Jordan. I do wish we had more scenes of her visits with Dr. Oswald because I feel it was very important.

For those who have read Not If I See You First (or haven’t!), Parker is a runner who is blind. We see Mel going to the track and watch the joggers because it reminds her of her brother, Nolan who was a long-jumper. I really liked seeing the mention of running in his sophomore novel! I wasn’t sure if we would get that in this book.

Me after reading the book: 

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Overall, I really did enjoy this book and it did meet my expectations. However, I did feel it was slow at parts and to be completely honest I was getting a little bored toward the end and some of my questions went unanswered. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, a lot! I would recommend 🙂


 

#DiverseAThon Wrap Up


DiverseAThon

Today is the last day of DiverseAThon. I have read two diverse books this week with school and work getting in the way. I’m posting my wrap up early because I know I’m not going to read today because of school work. To see my TBR post, click here.  Anyway, here is what I read for Diverse A Thon. I will also have a January wrap-up posted this week as well.

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This was a difficult book for me to get through. I started it earlier last year (won the book in a Goodreads giveaway) and I was disappointed. This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016, and I really feel like it fell short. I went to the audiobook after having a hard time reading the book. The audio helped it go quicker haha.

My overall thoughts are that it really felt like Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and if it would’ve continued the story as the night that Mark and Kate have, that would’ve made for a better storyline.

As for representation, it was okay. I liked having a cast of LGBTQIA+ characters.

I did discuss this book on a liveshow with other Booktubers for the YA Booktube Awards if you want to see our thoughts on You Know Me Well, We are the Ants and If I Was Your Girl. Click here to watch it.

My Rating: star icon star icon

 

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This book was AMAZING. I’m so glad I read it. This follows David, who has known he wants to be a girl since he was young and Leo, who is a new student to Eden Park School and wants to just get by.

The transgender representation in this book was excellent. I loved it so much, it was a great story of friendship and acceptance. Ugh, it was so good.

This is not own voices, but…The author Lisa Williamson worked as an administrator at a Gender Identity Development Service. If you’re looking for a book that features transgender characters I really recommend this one.

My Rating: star icon star icon star icon star icon

 


So, those are the two books I read for DiverseAThon! If you participated, what did you read?

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Ten Young Adult Contemporary Diverse Reads


YOUNG ADULT DIVERSE BOOKS TO READ 

  1. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – Korean American culture is represented in this story of a girl who’s love letters she has wrote get secretly sent out.
  2. In Real Life by Jessica Love – Korean female protagonist, best friend is Mexican. Hannah, her sister Grace and her best friend road trip to Las Vegas to meet Hannah’s online best friend Nick for the first time. She finds out some secrets Nick has been hiding.
  3. The Haters by Jesse Andrews – Wes is a Venezuelan adopted MC who is at band camp with his friend Corey. They decide to ditch and go on tour with Ash who they met at camp.
  4. This is Where It Ends by Marekji Njkamp – This story follows four POV’s of students during a shooting at their high school. Two of the POV’s are students who are Hispanic, three are female and two are lesbians in a same-sex relationship. There is another character who is Muslim but has a non-POV.The author is the founder of DiversifYA and member of the We Need Diverse Books team.
  5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – This is the story of two misfits who meet on their high school school bus. Park is an Asian male who is skinny and quiet. Eleanor is an oversized girl who lives in an abusive home. Together they come together when bonding over graphic novels and music taste. This story is set in the 80’s.
  6. Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall – Teo Garcia has been sporadically looking to find his biological father because his mother has been brushing it off. Jane is babysitting his sisters for the summer instead of writing her Doctor Who fan-fiction all summer long. Margot is trying to find the right time to tell her parents that she is bisexual.
  7. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon – Maddy White is allergic to everything. She writes book reviews and spends most of her time reading or on the Internet when she isn’t playing games with her mother or with her nurse, Clara. Her motives change when she sees a new boy move next door. Maddy is a biracial character. Nicola wrote Maddy’s character thinking of her own daughter, who is biracial as well. If you are interested in reading the interview click here.
  8. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins – This is the third and final book in the Anna and the French Kiss collection of books. Isla has a friend, Kurt who is on the Autism spectrum and is said to have Autism. He is a great character and Perkins shows his Autism very well.
  9. Paper Towns by John Green – Radar and Angela are characters in Paper Towns who are a couple. They represent the diversity in this humorous road trip book.  Radar’s family owns the biggest collection of black Santa Clause’s. They are both POC.
  10. Every Day by David Levithan – “It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day” – Goodreads

These are my top ten diverse Young Adult reads that I would recommend and I probably have more.

Recommend me a diverse book!

DIVERSITY AWARENESS BOOK TAG


Since the Twitter discussion #ISupportDiversity, I thought it was the perfect time to do this book tag about diverse books. In this video, I recommend diverse books based on the questions.

Created by: Green Eggs & Sam on Booktube 

Questions —

1) Why does diversity matter to you?
2) Find a diverse author?
3) Find a diverse lead character (preferably not from above author).
4) Find a book with a cast full of diverse characters.
5) Find a book where a diverse character is not a stereotype.
6) Find a character with whom you can identify.
7) Find a relationship with different diversities.
8) Find a book with a disabled (mental or physical) character.
9) Find a book with an LGBTQiA+ character (bonus if the character gets into a relationship).
10) Reflection. How hard was it to find books?

MORE INFO ON DIVERSE BOOKS:

» We Need Diverse Books   »  DiversityinYA   » DiversifYA   » DiverseAThon