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We Are Totally Normal

Written by: Rahul Kanakia
Narrated by: Sunil Malhotra
Length: 6 hrs and 30 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

In this queer contemporary YA, perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story, Nandan’s perfect plan for junior year goes awry after he hooks up with a guy for the first time.

Nandan’s got a plan to make his junior year perfect, but hooking up with his friend Dave isn’t part of it - especially because Nandan has never been into guys.

Still, Nandan’s willing to give a relationship with him a shot. But the more his anxiety grows about what his sexuality means for himself, his friends, and his social life, the more he wonders whether he can just take it all back.

Is breaking up with Dave - the only person who’s ever really gotten him - worth feeling “normal” again?

©2020 Rahul Kanakia (P)2020 HarperAudio

What listeners say about We Are Totally Normal

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • alsimvilla
  • 2020-04-11

Ok Story

This is a coming of age story. It is not the best but not the worst. The narrator was great at bringing the characters to life. However the story lacked character development and world building. You are thrown into a high school with characters with no real background. At times my mind wondered off. This was a great start to a decent YA LGBTQ story. If the story would of expanded on the characters and their universe more, we the listener/reader would want to get more invested in the story. I say try it if you like coming of age stories. If you don't like to hear or read about confused and privileged teens, this is not the story for you.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lucy Merriman
  • 2020-04-11

Beautiful story, not my favorite narrator

Ok, first thing's first, the narrator is great when Nandan or Dave are speaking, but many of the secondary characters (especially the girls) ended up sounding very similar to each other. So, there were a few times in scenes with multiple speakers where I had to rewind a bit to clarify what Jesse said vs. Mari vs Avani. Ken and Pothan also sounded pretty similar. I think the narrator is good overall, especially voicing Dave's more subdued, emotional dialogue. Just, if you're deciding between print or audio, the similar-sounding characters is something to be aware of. Second, I love this story. I have no idea what other people are reading into it that they're having such a strong negative reaction to. Sure, Nandan is kinda shallow and judgemental, but he also easily and readily revises his judgements to be more open-minded. He *wants* everyone to be interesting; he's looking for the story in everyone. Sometimes, absolutely, that makes him misunderstand people, because wanting that gets in the way of seeing people how they really are. But also, being seen as someone grand is kind of amazing-- it's a kind of gift Nandan can give to people, even if he doesn't exactly see it that way. Also, tellingly: he cannot see the story in *himself,* which makes him feel insecure, and that's part of what drives him to define himself by relationships and social status, and more interestingly, his social role, like his job or purpose within a social group. He manipulates because he thinks people won't like him if he's just "himself." He can't see in himself what is so obvious to Dave. I think that's part of what makes this story so beautiful and resonant with me. It's often easier for me to observe others and to catch myself mentally narrating than it is to truly open up with people and engage naturally. The other thing is, the story explores how finding a label for something doesn't always add a whole lot of clarity. For example, and this is a bit of a spoiler, Nandan is frequently sex-repulsed. Sometimes he feels attracted to Dave sexually, physically, and emotionally, sometimes the attraction seems to vanish, sometimes it is abruptly turned to disgust. He dissociates once, during sex, which was very...realistic. Believable. Throughout the story, Nandan draws attention to interior, bodily, tactile details as much as he narrates sights, sounds, and events. To inhabit Nandan is a vivid and not always pleasant experience. Yet, it's a moving experience for all of its intensity. And he has trouble talking about being sex repulsed at times, and he feels confused because he wants sex other times, and...I think, honestly some of the reason some of the negative reviews on other sites really bother me is that the reviewers seem to take sex aversion to be homophobic or sexist. And it's just not. There are a lot of reasons a person might be sex averse that aren't orientation-related. Someone might have a history of physical or sexual trauma, maybe they're neurodivergent, maybe they have an invisible disability, maybe they have a physical or gender dysphoria. Or, maybe Nandan is asexual, but the term seems to deny potential that he wants to have. It's ok to not know, especially in high school. Speaking to neurodivergence specifically, there are many people who don't get diagnosed with ASD or ADHD until their 20s, or later. Ultimately, I love that Dave accepts Nandan for who he really is, confusion and queerness and all. Dave is great, their relationship is moving, and most of the side plots were also pretty interesting. Even minor characters, like Nandan's mom, were detailed enough to make them memorable, to hint at other stories they were each protagonists of, albeit stories Nandan knows nothing about. 5/5 beautiful story, and 3/5 decent narration

1 person found this helpful

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  • A. Zulli
  • 2020-07-19

Devastating and fantastic

I was expecting your usual sweet YA gayboy book with maybe some parental homophobia and some high school bullying but NO this one is different. It's a dissection of teenage angst. It's gosh darn brilliant. I don't think I'd have the stomach to read it again but maybe after some therapy to come to terms with that part of my life, I could. The reader is great for the narrator but voicing everyone else verged on Very Annoying.

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  • Laurel
  • 2020-07-12

Complexity of attraction

This was a really really great book. It captured the grey areas and complexity of desire, attraction, sexuality, and depths of the social dance with clarity, realism, levity, and compassion. It touched on a lot of topics that are hard to articulate but were easy to relate to - and perhaps helped to make things more clear for me too. I loved this book, and would highly recommend it. This was the first time I read a YA novel that wasn’t SciFi or Fantasy and was not disappointed. I finished it in two days, and couldn’t put it down. The Audible was great - really good narrator who brought the story to life.