Published by Balzer + Bray on February 2nd 2016
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository
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.
Hey, everyone! I’m so happy to be a member of the Sunday Street Team. This is my first post for it and I’m excited for many more book tours. SST is hosted by Nori @ ReadWriteLove28.
Symptoms of Being Human is a seriously power book that people need to read. The term Gender fluid is one that countless Americans are relatively clueless about. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know all that much going into this story either. However, Garvin provides readers with tons of information that is truly important regardless of age, sex, race, or whatever, this is a topic you need to know more about. Just trust me, this a great book and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it.
This is a book that you will likely read in just one sitting. It’s easy to get completely caught up in Riley’s voice and forget to put the book down. Warning though: it’s a seriously emotional book, you’ll walk away feeling a large variety of different things. Honestly, some of the parts are downright painful to read since it’s baffling that a teen could treat another teen so terribly just because they are different. Anyway, this felt fairly realistic and the emotions that it provides the readers with plays a large part in that.
Riley is witty, brave, intelligent, and generally awesome all across the board. I will admit that I did catch myself attempting to guess whether Riley was born a boy or a girl, but after awhile, it finally hit me that it really doesn’t matter what part was given at birth. I loved that Riley was able to find a safe place on the Internet through blogging about what was happening under another name. Every single word written on the blog was beautiful and inspiring. Along the way, Riley also discovered both the good and bad that comes with having a blog that quickly becomes overwhelmingly popular. Once it becomes popular, there’s a tremendous amount of pressure placed on Riley when others going through the same thing start sending messages and asking for very serious advice about coming out and all that. I enjoyed that this whole experience online wasn’t totally glamorized, there were downsides to it as well.
Besides Riley, there were two specific characters that became really important at the new public school Riley was basically forced to attend. One of them was Bec, who instantly connects with Riley and never seems to pass any judgement. I felt like Bec was a fascinating character. I would have liked to see more romance happen between them just because that’s my favorite thing, but I get that Riley had more pressing matters going on. The other important character is Solo. I was a bit unsure about his motives in the beginning, but he proves himself and becomes an incredible friend to Riley. I also loved that he was a total geek but also this big and burly football player.
Symptoms of Being Human is a quick read that will hit you hard and make you feel so many emotions. It’s filled with tons of heart and I’m so glad this story exists. I hope the words in this story will bring comfort to gender fluid teens out there and make them feel less alone and help expose them to some of the resources that are out there. I also hope that it will teach those who know nothing about it or that have bullied gender fluid teens in the past how difficult going through this is, even in today’s more open society. I really hope my review encourages you to give this a read because it’s definitely worth it!
Before becoming a novelist, Jeff Garvin acted on TV and toured as the lead singer of a rock band. He has a BFA in Film from Chapman University and lives in Southern California, surrounded by adorable, shedding beasts.