Sunday, February 14, 2016

Book Review: Symptoms of Being Human

Title Symptoms of Being Human
Author Jeff Garvin
Release Date February 2, 2016

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Squee! I loved this book so very much. This is definitely my favorite book of 2016 so far (hey, it's still really early).

Like other readers, I also speculated whether Riley was a girl or a boy. Yes, it's human nature to be curious. Maybe society has tried to ingrain in me that a person is either a boy or a girl and there is no in between. I didn't need Symptoms of Being Human to know that a binary system for gender doesn't work. Humans aren't that easy. My point here is: what difference does it make? Whether Riley is a boy or girl is irrelevant to the story... actually, it's pretty irrelevant to anything at all. A person is who they are no matter their gender.

I appreciate that Jeff Garvin didn't reveal Riley's birth gender. I feel like it was a subtle way to deliver the powerful message that being a girl or boy doesn't define you.

Symptoms of Being Human was a fantastic book. I feel like there's so much more I could say, but other reviewers have said it better. I know this isn't much of a review at all, but I wanted to bring just a little more attention to this book. So many people need it and it deserves all the attention it can get.


5 out of 5 stars

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