About the book:
Title: Symptoms of Being Human
Author: Jeff Garvin
Genre & Age Group: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, young adult
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.
Source: Public library
How I Found Out About It: Goodreads
When I first heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. Learning about gender queer individuals from a character who blogs seemed like such an interesting premise, and I was so excited! And when I read this book, it was just what I had expected- plus more!
For a summary, this book centres around a teenager named Riley, who feels different than all the other kids of the same age. Some days, Riley feels like a female, and others like a male. Riley had no idea what on earth was going on and what was wrong (if anything), so he/she decided to see a therapist to discuss the worries and anxiety. Notice how I said he/she. This is because when Riley looked up the symptoms of what had been happening, he/she found out that there was a name for the condition- gender fluid, meaning that people like this either don’t identify with either gender, or identify with both. Riley fell into the latter category, but at different times. Anyway, Riley’s therapist told him/her to create a blog about being that way, and from doing this, he/she would be able to rant and interact with people who feel the same way. Riley, though a bit reluctant, thought that this was a good idea and created the blog, which ended up going viral! But unfortunately, someone anonymous kept on sending hate messages and threats, to the point where Riley really needed to find out who it was. Will Riley find out, and does he/she know the cyberbully in real life? And will he/she be able to come out to those whom he/she knows and trusts?
I found this book to be amazing! The characters, the plot… EVERYTHING! Riley was just such a great role model for everyone, and was so brave and strong! Despite some very mean people bullying him/her for his/her gender identity, Riley stayed courageous (well, partly with the help of friends named Solo and Bec) and pulled through really well! Riley’s blog posts were also really inspirational and definitely made me look at the world in a different perspective. Before reading this book, the world seemed to be divided into two categories. Male and female. Yes or no. Reader or TV-watcher, and more. But from this story, I was able to realize and accept that there is an in-between in each of these categories. In between male and female, there’s transgender, or gender fluid like Riley was. In between yes and no, there’s maybe. (I think now you get the idea of how uplifting and coming-of-age this book was!)
I’d recommend this book to honestly any teen, especially those who are struggling to find out who they really are and what they stand for, and also to anyone willing to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community. You will for sure see the whole world from a brand new lens, and the amazingness of this book is absolutely not to be missed!
Rating: 5/5 Stars!