Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

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.

I was taken by the simple yet gorgeous cover for Symptoms of Being Human, and my sister was too, which is why she decided that I should read this one. It's been shamefully on my kindle for a while now, and it was about time that I dug into this one. My reading recently has been dealing with a bunch of "firsts" and it's true for Symptoms of Being Human as well: I've never read a book about someone who is gender fluid. Regardless, I knew that this one was going to be a powerful read, and an emotional one too.

I never knew what being gender fluid actually meant–not a really clear idea at least–until I read Garvin's debut, and it's definitely interesting to see how the protagonist explains it to various characters in the novel. I liked the fact that the author actually doesn't state Riley's biological gender, which made reading this so much more genuine, and really presented our protagonist the way they wanted to be presented to the world.

The bullying was absolutely terrifying. It's terrible that there are people who have to go through this day by day. Towards the end there was a definite Boys Don't Cry moment, which was both heart-pounding and extremely sad to read about. I like that Riley did have support from people, and that there was some hope amongst the ugly, disgusting behaviour from some other characters.

Riley's blog voice is absolutely hilarious. Hilarious and powerful, that is. I loved the ranty nature of the blog posts, but there were clearly important issues being brought up that I hadn't much knowledge of prior to reading this novel. But I like how it truly captured the essence of blogging as well, how there are other people out there who can understand what you're going through, and who have had similar experiences and are just trying to get help and support as well.

This was a difficult review to write, but hopefully you can see how strong and inspiring this book is. A story about finding yourself, opening up and inspiring others, Garvin's Symptoms of Being Human was stunning and poignant–truly a book that needs to be read by everyone.

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1 comment:

  1. That is a gorgeous cover! I have a thing for minimalism and I tend to collect white cover books. This rather fits the bill. Lol. Oh, and the story sounds good, too!


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