November -The Art of Being Normal

It’s one of those ‘If I don’t do it now, it won’t happen’ kind of weeks, so straight after book club tonight, here is the November blog post!!

Lisa Williamson – The Art of Being Normal

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The Art of being Normal is book with a really interesting premise. If you have never wondered what it would be like for a child who was born one sex, but identified as the other, you will do while reading this book. The main character David is a 14 year old girl who was born male, she knows that she is a girl, and has done since she was young, but is living as a boy, and trying to fit in. There are some really sad moments in this book, such as the times when David is able to dress in women’s clothing, when nobody else is at home, but then has to put it all away (the wig, the make up etc) when the family is there.

David meets Leo at school, Leo is a new kid at the school and stands up for David when ‘he’ is bullied in the lunch hall. We know that Leo left his last school for reasons which are kept quiet, so at this point in the book we wonder, and are lead to believe that he is fiery/violent, but we do not know his story. The rest of the book revolves around David & Leo’s friendship, David’s relationship with his family, and Leo’s relationships (or lack of) with his Mum, her boyfriend and his sister, his Dad and the girl that he has fallen for at school.

I loved parts of the book, but it fell down for me in other parts, one of the group described it as a bit ‘John Hughes’ at the end, for me it really didn’t satisfy at all and I LOVE John Hughes movies! I love that there is a teen book about this subject out there, and hope that more teens will educate themselves about what it is to be transgender, but I wish it wasn’t so safe. It was a little ‘life can be tough, but only a little bit, don’t worry, nothing too bad will happen’ at times, luckily the story behind why Leo left his last school was at least a more realistic, if heavy going.

There are 353 pages in this book, and until page 352 I was giving the book, even with it’s shortcomings a 3.5* rating, and then the last two pages happened, and I’m sorry but my rating dropped significantly at that point and I gave it a 3*. A worthwhile topic, and some reasonably likeable characters, but a bit far fetched and seriously why would you end it like that???? Anyway the group gave it a 3.5* rating, read it if you aren’t busy, it’s alright I guess!

Jean-Paul Didierlaurent – The Reader on the 6.27 

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The reader on the 6.27 is an odd wee book, when I first started to read it, I didn’t think I wanted to continue, it was only because it was so easy to read and relatively short that I continued. The first 40+ pages were ok, but seemed to labour on descriptions of the ‘monster’ at Guylain’s work place, and it did not intrigue me. Then I read chapter 9, the end of which was so beautifully written that I thought ‘now here is a book that I can read’. The fact that Guylain reads out loud on the train is interesting, and incredibly brave, but the story behind what he reads and how he reads it is very sweet.

I loved , later in the book when Guylain visited Magnolia Court, the chapter revolving round this visit made me laugh out loud and I truly got hooked at this point. Guylain’s search for an entire print run of a specific book,  his search for the owner of a diary that he finds, and the characters, all unique and, for the most part likeable, make this book a real page turner. A feel good book, which is not overly romantic, has many funny moments  and leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling, I would happily recommend this book. The average rating for the group was 4*, this is also my rating.

Happy Reading!
Mel x

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