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Review: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Title: Symptoms of Being Human
Author: Jeff Garvin
Year Published: 2016

Genre: YA Fiction (LGBTQ)
Pages: 335
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2016 Google Reading map)USA (CA)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the back of the book): 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, 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 discover's Riley's real identity, threatening exposure. And 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.

Review: Another incredible YA book! Boy I am really on a reading streak this week--5 books and they were all good, what a great feeling. It's definitely because my daughter has left for boarding school so I have lots of extra time.

Riley is a really likable character and I think every reader can relate even if we don't understand what it means to be gender fluid. Riley is kind, polite, a good friend and student, and just wants to fit in. To blend in. To not make waves. But just by being gender fluid, even if no one realizes that's what's going on, Riley causes a stir. We all want to label one another, to put people in boxes that fit our preconceived notions and Riley just won't let us. And that's a good thing. I'll admit during the entire book I wondered if Riley was a boy or a girl based on anatomy. But we never find out and I think that's important because it doesn't matter. What matters is what Riley feels.

I have read some reviews that say that the events aren't realistic; that Riley's blog couldn't go viral and get so many followers so quickly. I beg to differ having been in the Hollywood industry for a couple years and watched kids get tens of thousands of followers seemingly overnight. I was caught up in Riley's life, the friends, the parents, and the events. Heck, I stayed up until 1:00am finishing this book and that is WAY past my bedtime.

I think this is an important book as well since it opens up another teen issue and tells a story without hitting the reader over the head with it's message. We just get caught up in Riley's life and we care.

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