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February 1, 2016

Review: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Title: Symptoms of Being Human
Author: Jeff Garvin
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Publication date: February 2nd, 2016
Genre(s): Young adult
Source: I received this as an e-ARC from Balzer and Bray on Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thanks so much to them!
Pages: 352

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.

This was the first 2016 ARC I decided to pick up and I was hoping that it would be amazing. I forced myself to wait until November and then decided I would finally allow myself to start reading the 2016 books. My hopes were definitely met. I loved this book so, so, so much. It was made up of wonderful characters, beautiful writing, a diverse topic not seen much in YA, and so much more.

One thing I loved right off the bat was the family dynamics. In lots of YA, the parents are only mentioned once or twice, in passing, if at all. In this book, the mom and dad were present and there were lots of scenes with them in it and I really appreciated that. I also loved all of Riley's (the main character) friends. They were so supportive, accepting, and loving of her and it just filled my heart with warmth. Riley is a gender fluid person, meaning some days Riley wakes up and feels like a boy while other days, Riley feels like a boy. Riley described it as having a compass and every morning, the compass was either pointing to male or female for that day. I am not going to lie, before reading this book I did not know much about the term gender fluid. I had heard about it before but never really understood it. After reading this, I now know so much more about it and I am glad that I am not ignorant of that topic anymore. 

Riley posts on a blog to vent about emotions and I thought that was really interesting. I loved reading the blog posts and seeing the comments Riley received and how Riley dealt with the comments, both the negative and positive ones. I thought that was another really interesting aspect of the book. This story is about Riley's journey of coming out as gender fluid and I enjoyed being on this journey. Riley's journey broke my heart into about a million pieces but then put it all back together. I couldn't stop reading it. I was addicted to my Kindle the entire day and I didn't want anyone interrupting me. It was totally addictive but in a good way. This was such an amazing novel and I would recommend it to anyone. 


  1. Wow. As more and more bloggers rave about this book, this one must be something unique. Great review! <3

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book, Jacquelyn! It sounds so impactful and wonderful. I'm glad the parents and family have a stronger role in this book because I too notice that parents tend to disappear in YA novels. Aww this book sounds so heartfelt, I can't wait to see Riley's journey. :)

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books