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.
Let me start off this review by saying that I had never thought I’d actually like an audiobook, Yet, I saw that my library only had Symptoms of Being Human in audiobook format, so I gave it a go. Let’s just say that I’m really glad that I did!
Symptoms of Being Human follows a character named Riley, who doesn’t identify as a boy or a girl. You see, Riley is a gender-fluid protagonist, which makes this novel so extremely unique. I’ve never read a book about gender fluidity, especially not a young adult novel. That’s why I think that this book is so important. It educates the younger generation in such a lovely way.
Riley was such an awesome character. I absolutely loved reading through Riley’s thoughts and experiencing the world. I also connected to Riley because of the blog that Riley decided to run. On it, Riley would talk about feelings and life. Those were some of my favorite parts.
Overall, I really like how Symptoms of Being Human left me thinking afterwards. I know that the book is filled with characters that I will never forget. I know that I will for sure be picking up any other novels that Garvin writes in the future.
We’re all taught from a young age that there are only two choices: pink or blue, Bratz or Power Rangers, cheerleading or football. We see gender in two dimensions because that’s what society has taught us from birth. But, are you ready for a shocking revelation? SOCIETY NEEDS TO CHANGE.
I can’t blame you for trying to categorize me. It’s a human instinct. It’s why scientists are, to this day, completely flabbergasted by the duck-billed platypus: it’s furry like a mammal, but lay eggs like a bird. It defies conventional classification. I AM THE PLATYPUS.
The world isn’t binary. Everything isn’t black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it’s not a switch, it’s a dial. And it’s not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission or approval.
As for wondering if it’s okay to be who you are–that’s not a symptom of mental illness. That’s a symptom of being person.