SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN by Jeff Garvin

SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN

Age Range: 12 - 18
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Riley Cavanaugh, whose father is a prominent politician in a conservative Southern California county, navigates being gender fluid and experiencing panic attacks.

For Riley, being gender fluid means that "some days I wake up feeling more 'boy' and some days I wake up feeling more 'girl.' And some days, I wake up feeling somewhere in between." When Riley starts attending public school, in part to escape bullying and in part to boost Sen. Cavanaugh's education-reformer image, Riley's plan is to dress androgynously and try to blend in. But Riley's arrival attracts attention both negative—a popular girl calls Riley "it"—and positive—two misfit students offer friendship and maybe more. On the advice of Dr. Ann, the therapist Riley started seeing after a suicide attempt, Riley starts a personal blog. After just a couple of posts, Riley gains a massive following, and Andie Gingham, a trans girl in crisis, reaches out to Riley for advice. Both the blog's instant popularity and the media emphasis on Riley's role in Andie's story ring false, and the book's insistence that transgender and gender-fluid teens should all come out seems less than carefully reasoned. Riley's family relationships and growing friendships, however, are vibrantly imagined, and the panic attacks are well-illustrated.

Overall, a welcome mirror for gender-fluid teens and a helpful introduction for others. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-06-238286-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2015




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