Nandan’s fresh perspective is a gift—I can’t wait for readers to experience it!
Nandan’s fresh perspective is a giftI can’t wait for readers to experience it!
A brilliant coming-of-age story. Every teen needs this book.
A perfect story about the complications of sexuality and identity. I adored this book from beginning to end.
"Told through the eyes of one of the most endearing and real characters I’ve ever met, We Are Totally Normal is validating, entertaining, and filled with love."
"An engrossing and palpable story that is in no rush to have all the answers, and that's totally normal."
"Raw, intimate, and unflinchingly honest, We Are Totally Normal fully embraces the messiness and unpredictability of the human heart.
Incisive, funny, and gloriously messy.
An endearing, messy, and honest exploration of identity that reminds us that discovering who we aren’t is as important as discovering who we are.
A fresh and rare exploration of sexuality, identity, friendship, and love.
Gr 10 Up—High school senior Nandan, who is of South Asian descent, broke up with his perfect girlfriend, Avani, because being around her made him too anxious. He struggles with feeling like everyone around him is brighter and more interesting than he is, and that all of his specialness is by association only. When he befriends quiet, bow tie–wearing Dave, Nandan immediately turns him into a project—he will help Dave figure out how to hook up with Mari, his supposed crush. Instead, Nandan and Dave hook up and Nandan must struggle with how, or whether, to define his sexuality. This is not a typical coming-out narrative: Nandan worries that his coming out may be a form of attention-seeking to please his diverse friend group, who think it's cool to be queer. Nandan is deeply selfish and spends most of his time obsessing over the minute intricacies of his friend group's social dynamics. Everyone is using everyone else, and his male friends frequently make sexist comments and approach girls as conquests rather than as people. All of this makes the reading experience tedious, although teens are likely to find the narrative realistic. The most interesting parts of the book deal with Nandan's conflicted feelings about masculinity and gendered friendships, as he struggles to understand the power dynamics among his male friends and longs for close platonic friendships with girls. VERDICT This novel covers unique ground, but unappealing characters and a meandering narrative will put off many readers.—Elizabeth Giles, Lubuto Library Partners, Zambia
Nandan is perpetually lost.
Confused about his sexuality, his social status, and how he feels about the other high school students he calls his friends, Nandan manipulates and maneuvers his way through social interactions, hanging out with people he doesn't really like. Nandan hooks up with Dave, who "was actually kind of hot," but "maybe folks didn't see it because he was Asian." He feels disgusted about it later and wonders if he only did it to try and impress the popular crowd. These teens include Pothan and Ken, who are both bullies and gaslighters as well as sexist. The book includes a character who feels like being gay would make him cool, blasé and sarcastic use of the term "microaggressions," teenage alcohol abuse, many unhealthy relationships and friendships, and an entire conversation by boys about how to manipulate a girl into sleeping with you. It is reminiscent of how exhausting being a teen can be, as all the characters are so crippled with anxiety and overthinking that the story advances at a snail's pace. Its strength lies in the normalization of negotiating the complex social structure of teenage friendships and relationships, but it is also reminiscent of watching a documentary or reality show about awful people that was largely, painfully unedited. Nandan is Indian American, and there is diversity in the supporting cast.
Frustratingly long-winded and rambling. (Fiction. 14-18)
"One of my favorite things about how much queer YA we get these years is that we’re finally allowed to have the messy stuff, the representation that isn’t the neatest and most pristine and clear cut.... Is Nandan bisexual? Is he in it to be more interesting? Is he always going to be “different” now, even more than before? So many questions and no great answers, but exploring the complexity of it all is the beauty of this book."
"With its fast, dialogue-driven pacing, humor, and finger on the youthful pulse, this book will find an eager audience in queer and questioning teens, especially those of color."
"A touching novel about all the confusions and intensities of high school, from sexuality to peer pressure... The novel deftly negotiates the complexities of teenage friendships and relationships with insight and compassion."
"We Are Totally Normal downplays its literary sensibility with lighthearted humor and smart, bantering dialog. This book is a great choice for readers interested in LGBTQ+ and QPOC romance and post-Millennial coming-of-age stories."