Friday, 12 December 2014

Review: Rethinking Normal - A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill

Rethinking Normal - A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill

Publishing Date: September 2014
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada 
Pages: 272 pages

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

The Premise: This book is young adult contemporary memoir written by Katie Rain Hill. In this novel, Katie shares her process with learning that she is transgender and catalogues the narrative from childhood to where she is today, a college student. The book not only tackles the challenges she faced when trying to be "normal" at school, but also at home and finally, the challenges she faced because of how her story circulated online. The story is also intertwined with that of another transgendered teen, Arin Andrews - who also wrote his own memoir (a review for that is to come). 

My overall thoughts and review: To begin with, let me just say, I want to commend and applaud Katie's bravery and honesty in this novel. It must have taken a lot to sit down and write out some passages, especially those that were particularly painful.. I had some experience writing a novel last month in a memoir-esque style, and it definitely is not something that is enjoyable. I really enjoyed this book and it definitely informed me a lot more about transgender and the overall process of it. It shocked me to read some of the responses Katie received growing up, not only from fellow classmates but the administration. The scenes about how the school she went to reacted to her coming back to school were just flat out insane. I just can't believe a school administration would behave in that way, and it was so lovely to read about how Katie and her mom tackled that situation. 

At the heart of this novel, it is mostly a story about how Katie wants to be "normal" especially when her situation can make it difficult to experience. Interwoven within the narrative is Katie's relationship with her mother (which was incredibly sweet) and also her relationship with Arin Andrews, another transgendered teen. I really enjoyed how honest Katie was with all relationships that she mentioned. It was a breath of fresh air, reading those passages. I also really enjoyed reading her honesty about the media and just how pressured she felt, especially when it came to Arin and certain expectations she had to live up to. 

Now, you are probably wondering why I gave the book a 3/5 stars, and that isn't anything against the story itself, because I really enjoyed it. It definitely built my understanding of transgender notions. It was mainly the writing and pacing for me, which led me to my rating. It felt in the beginning like it was going in chronological order, but there was some time jumps, which I felt could've been smoother when transitioning from story to story and the pacing of it all. I enjoyed that for mostly every section there were photos included. However, the writing of it.. at times, it was confusing and not really well developed and at times, I really felt Katie's voice coming across, and other times I didn't.. I think that is because, the novel is quite short, in my opinion for a memoir, and Katie could've definitely expanded on many other things, if the space was allocated to her (I guess that means, another book is in order? ;)) All in all, I really enjoyed it. So well done, Katie! 

My rating of the book:  (3/5 stars) 

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Simon and Schuster Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

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