Reviewed by Jackie Marchant
This is a well-written, entertaining read, deserving of its shortlisting/award success.
It’s about David, who has always known he’s a girl, but has told no one but his two best friends, who are now going out with each other. He has understanding parents, yet he still can’t bring himself to tell them, let alone the rest of the world. And, following a cringingly brilliant bullying scene, it’s easy to see why. Now enter Leo, the new ‘hard’ kid who is rumoured to have been expelled from his tough school for assaulting a teacher. He is the last person you’d expect to befriend David, let alone be sympathetic to his plight, but he has a secret of his own that causes the relationship to develop in an unexpected way.
The story is told in alternative points of view and, although the fonts differ accordingly, I did find myself following the wrong character at times. That’s really the only tiny complaint I’d have in an otherwise extremely engaging book with characters I can believe in and sympathise with. The plot paces along nicely, leading up to a fitting climax, after which David settles into realising that, despite the title of this book, it’s OK to be normal – in fact, it’s preferable.
There is no doubt that, all these years after I left school, there is still this culture of ‘normal’ and trying to fit in. But, if this is a true reflection on what it’s like to be a teen in school today, then I can only be encouraged by the scene where the head teacher informs the whole school during assembly one of their pupils has transitioned and there is to be absolutely no bullying in the matter. That would never have happened in my day and I can only imagine what it must have been like to keep something like this a secret. So, I was happy to leave this book knowing that, although she has a tough road ahead, Kate (nee David) will be able to be exactly who she is.
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