Parents' Guide to

We Are Totally Normal

By Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Compelling but uneven tale of teen exploring his sexuality.

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This unique, gritty, and very messy story chronicles what it can mean to question your sexuality. Not a typical queer love story full of romance, We Are Totally Normal, shows that not all queer folks know they are queer from an early age, and that it can be confusing and fraught trying to figure it all out. Given that Nandan and many of his friends are racially/ethnically diverse, readers also see how culture complicates Nandan's search for self-knowledge. And it stands out for representing voices and experiences of queer people of color.

Nandan is a sometimes-sympathetic character, but as he ruthlessly navigates the social hierarchies of high school, manipulating and pushing friends and his love interest away, it may be hard for some readers to appreciate his struggles. Most of his friends are horrible, especially Potham and Ken, who call women "bitches," pontificate on how to get girls to have sex, and gaslight Nandan when he tries to be "real." There's some witty, wry dialogue, but the plot can be slow-moving and involves a series of parties where teens abuse alcohol and scheme to hook up. Though an uneven reading experience, this book has definite appeal for queer and questioning teens and their allies.

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