Completely Normal (and Other Lies)

Biffy James

Completely Normal (and Other Lies)
Hardie Grant Children's Publishing
6 July 2022

Completely Normal (and Other Lies)

Biffy James

The Gab Williams Prize inaugural winner

Shortlisted for The Readings Young Adult Prize 2023

Love has rules. So does grief. And Stella Wilde’s about to break them all.

Stella Wilde is secretly in love with the hottest guy in school, Isaac Calder. He seems to love her back, but there’s a problem - he already has a girlfriend, the gorgeous Grace Reyes.

When Isaac is killed in a car accident, the entire school is turned upside down with grief. And while Grace can mourn publicly, Stella has to hide her feelings to stop people from finding out about her and Isaac being more than friends.

But how long can Stella keep lying - to herself and everyone else? And when the truth finally comes out, how will it affect her newfound friendship with Grace?

Shortlisted for the Ampersand Prize, Completely Normal (and other lies) is a gripping contemporary YA novel that’s as witty and sarcastic as it is tender and moving. With its insightful explorations of love, grief, mental health and friendship, it’s perfect for fans of John Green, Krystal Sutherland and Sally Rooney.


Shortlisted for the Ampersand Prize, this debut YA novel by local author Biffy James is told from the perspective of Stella Wilde, an amusing, sardonic teenager who’s just starting to figure out who she is. At school she is surrounded by people who the social structures have decided are her friends, whether she likes them or not. At home it’s just her and her eccentric mum who’s recently discovered therapy and is constantly pestering Stella about how amazing it is. Since Stella’s dad has just up and left with his new wife and daughter to live in Hong Kong, Stella probably has a few things to sort out internally, but she’d rather just ignore it all – it’s easier that way, right?

After agreeing to go to one therapist appointment, Stella accidentally (and literally) runs into Isaac Calder, the hottest guy at school. This accident leads to an unexpected friendship – and more – between the two characters. There’s only one problem: Isaac’s girlfriend Grace, who’s gorgeous and kind and adored by everyone. As Isaac and Stella’s secret relationship grows, Grace is a topic they avoid, but how long can this last? Just as it is all coming to a culmination, Isaac is killed in a car accident. Stella can’t mourn openly since no one knew about them, especially not Grace. And strangely, Stella has just started to become friends – real friends – with the other girl.

Presented in James’ accessible and relatable style, the complex interplay between these characters explores tough topics, such as mental health, consent, first love and grief. Completely Normal (and Other Lies) is recommended for ages 13+.

Claire Atherfold is the manager at Readings State Library.

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