Title: Symptoms of Being Human
Author: Jeff Garvin
Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book for review!
I was really excited for this book when I first heard about it. I hadn’t heard about someone being gender fluid until I was listening to a podcast last year and one of the discussions was on gender fluidity. I thought it was very interesting and I was even able to think of a few people in my life who might have even been gender fluid.
I grew up in conservative, rural gun country. Questioning your gender would never even be thought of there. Queer people were not out. Dressing and looking different were a guaranteed way to get yourself picked on. I don’t live there anymore, but I am always scared for the future of the kids who are growing up there. Will they be able to express themselves the way they want? Or will they be crushed down and boxed in?
I think books like this are important because kids who do live in places like that need a way to know that there IS a world outside of places like that. I was lucky to have the internet as a teen and I learned that there WERE places where people thought outside the box, dressed differently and expressed themselves. I am a much different (and far less conservative) person now that I’ve lived outside of it all.
I liked the writing in this book, I liked the characters, but it was a bit predictable. As an important story I give it five stars. As a novel, I give i three. I knew “who done it” from the second it was done. I thought things were too convenient and that Riley’s blog popularity skyrocketed a little too fast. I would have liked to have seen Riley as more of a blogger and less of a sensation. And I think that if we’re talking about all these difficult topics that the ending events shouldn’t have been so vague. I’m not sure if it was to play it safe or just because this wasn’t a book about assault, but I would have liked more clear language.
Overall this is a great book and I hope that it makes it into the right hands.