Cover image for Rethinking normal : a memoir in transition
Rethinking normal : a memoir in transition
Hill, Katie Rain, author.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster BFYR, [2014]

Physical Description:
264 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
"In this young adult memoir, a transgender girl shares her personal journey of growing up as a boy and then undergoing gender reassignment during her teens"--
General Note:
In the title, the word "normal" is printed upside down and backwards.
Reading Level:
880 Lexile.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ77.8.H55 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
HQ77.8.H55 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HQ77.8.H55 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HQ77.8.H55 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HQ77.8.H55 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Young Adult

On Order



In her unique, generous, and affecting voice, nineteen-year-old Katie Hill shares her personal journey of undergoing gender reassignment.

Have you ever worried that you'd never be able to live up to your parents' expectations? Have you ever imagined that life would be better if you were just invisible? Have you ever thought you would do anything-- anything --to make the teasing stop? Katie Hill had and it nearly tore her apart.

Katie never felt comfortable in her own skin. She realized very young that a serious mistake had been made; she was a girl who had been born in the body of a boy. Suffocating under her peers' bullying and the mounting pressure to be "normal," Katie tried to take her life at the age of eight years old. After several other failed attempts, she finally understood that "Katie"--the girl trapped within her--was determined to live.

In this first-person account, Katie reflects on her pain-filled childhood and the events leading up to the life-changing decision to undergo gender reassignment as a teenager. She reveals the unique challenges she faced while unlearning how to be a boy and shares what it was like to navigate the dating world and experience heartbreak for the first time in a body that matched her gender identity. Told in an unwaveringly honest voice, Rethinking Normal is a coming-of-age story about transcending physical appearances and redefining the parameters of "normalcy" to embody one's true self.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

It was a story the media found irresistible: two transgender teens Katie Rain Hill, an MTF transgender, and Arin Andrews, an FTM transgender from small Oklahoma towns met against all odds and fell in love. Excited by the opportunity to raise the visibility of transgender issues, the two felt that their life stories could provide inspiration. As a consequence, they have now written their respective memoirs or cowritten, since, in their acknowledgments, both thank their cowriters. This is Katie's story. By the time the media discovered them, their intense love relationship had already become tenuous. Many things contributed to the demise of their affair: Katie's gender reassignment surgery (paid for by an anonymous donor) and their ages (Katie went off to college, while Arin, two years younger, remained in high school). Katie then began seeing other boys without Arin's knowledge, and, well, it's a sad story and one that has, to a certain degree, been massaged. It would be interesting to have more information about the fact-fiction divide. Still, this is an invaluable title that puts empathetic human faces on a condition that otherwise might be presented as coldly clinical. For an expanded exploration of the two teens' books, including a look at Arin's memoir, Some Assembly Required (2014), please see Michael Cart's feature Transgender Teens and Romance. --Cart, Michael Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Katie knew she was a girl on the inside, even when she was a suicidal kid named Luke growing up in a disjointed family in Oklahoma. Bullied relentlessly at school and unsupported by administrators, other students' parents, and even her own father, Katie finds an ally in her mother, who stands by her daughter as she starts dressing like a girl, legally changes her name, and travels to get genital reconstruction surgery the day after turning 18. Along the way, Katie becomes an advocate for transgender teens, appearing on TV with her trans boyfriend Arin Andrews, whose memoir, Some Assembly Required, is being published simultaneously. Katie's story provides solid information about what it means to be transgender and to transition, as well as "Tips for Talking to Transgender People" in the back matter. Part of what makes Katie's story so extraordinary is that many of her struggles are entirely ordinary (she cheats on Arin, for example, lying to him when he finds out through Facebook). Being so open-and openly imperfect-makes Katie relatable on a human level, not just as a spokesperson. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Like most transgender children, Katie, who was born and raised as a boy named Luke, was aware of her difference early on, though it was years before she found the word to describe herself. Other family problems made it easy for her to withdraw into a serious depression without being noticed. When Katie finally came across the word "transgender" and read descriptions of what it meant, she risked everything and reached out to her mother, who was supportive and relieved to understand her child better. She promised to help Katie make the transition to her internally identified gender of female, if Katie promised not to kill herself. The book opens with Katie starting college. Having chosen to be an out and open transgender activist while still in high school, she decided to "go stealth" at college, a term used to describe transgender people who prefer not to be identified as such. The writing style is open and straightforward, although much of the dialogue is awkward and extraneous. The book starts out a bit slowly and picks up significantly in the later half. This is a worthwhile addition, given how few transgender memoirs there are for teens.-Nancy Silverrod, San Francisco Public Library (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Rethinking Normal 1 BLUEBERRY BLUE I was born on May 12, 1994, in New Bern, North Carolina, with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. As soon as I came out, the doctors flew into a frenzy, grabbed me, pushed my dad--who had been waiting to cut the cord of his firstborn son--out of the way, cut the cord themselves, and rushed me to a table to try to revive me. My mom caught a glimpse as they whisked me away--my face blueberry blue from lack of airflow--and she started screaming and crying. "Where's my baby? Where's my baby?" She kicked and thrust, trying to get out of the stirrups and out of the bed, while doctors held her down. I could have died, almost did die. The doctors pinked me back up and brought me to my mom. "Are you sure he's okay?" my mother asked. According to my mom, I was completely silent--eerily so for a newborn--fast asleep in her arms. My mom was terrified that I'd somehow been damaged from the asphyxiation, that I might be mentally handicapped like her second son from a previous marriage, Josh, was. The doctors reassured her that everything was fine. They brought my dad back in, and he and my mom stared down at me. Soft, full lips. Long eyelashes. And when I slowly opened them, deep blue eyes just like my dad's. "Look at him," my mom whispered. "He's an angel." • • • The very first question people ask when there's a baby involved is, "Is it a boy or a girl?" And the instant that question is answered, people begin to place prejudgments and expectations onto that baby. If it's a boy, they imagine the clothes he will be dressed in, what toys he will be given, what sports he will play, the woman he will fall in love with and marry. If it's a girl, they envision party dresses, a bride walking down the aisle, a mom-to-be giving birth herself. And so it was with me. My parents knew beforehand that they were having a boy, and planned accordingly. After I was born, they wrapped me in my blue-and-white blankie and took me home from the hospital to my blue-painted bedroom. The first couple of years of my life, I barely made a peep. I was the quietest baby you could possibly imagine. I never cried. I never whined. My mom wouldn't even know when to feed me or change my diaper. I would just lie there with that stupid happy baby face, with a diaper full of poop, smiling at everyone. My mom says I was the happiest baby she's ever seen. It was a happiness that would not last long. Excerpted from Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.