A sharply honest and moving debut perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Ask the Passengers .
Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl.Read more...
- [-] Other Available FormatsOur PriceNew & Used MarketplaceSymptoms of Being Human (Paperback)
Publisher: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen$9.99Symptoms of Being Human (Audio Compact Disc - Unabridged)
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A sharply honest and moving debut perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Ask the Passengers.
Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. But 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 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. 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.
From debut author Jeff Garvin comes a powerful and uplifting portrait of a modern teen struggling with high school, relationships, and what it means to be a person."
- ISBN-13: 9780062382863
- ISBN-10: 0062382861
- Publisher: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
- Publish Date: February 2016
- Page Count: 352
- Reading Level: Ages 13-17
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-11-16
- Reviewer: Staff
Its the first day at a new high school, and Riley is facing typical problems, such as deciding what to wear and where to sit at lunch, and a few less common ones, such as avoiding being heckled by classmates who object to Rileys gender-nonconforming appearance. Gender-fluid Riley wakes up each morning in a different place on the male-female continuum. To be safe, Riley strives for neutrality, but that doesnt necessarily feel right. As junior year starts, Riley makes an unlikely friend, develops a crush, andencouraged by a therapist acquired after years of anxiety and secrecy led to a suicide attemptstarts a blog about being gender-fluid. Despite bullying that escalates into full-on assault, Riley gains the courage to come out with help from friends, a love interest, and a support group. Readers never learn Rileys birth-assigned gender, but theres no question that Riley is a smart, funny, sharp-eyed force. Debut author Garvin clearly wants to teach his readers about gender and gender fluidity, but the knowledge he imparts buoys this rewarding story, never weighing it down. Ages 14up. Agent: Rachel Ekstrom, Irene Goodman Agency. (Feb.)
A teen breaks from gender expectations
It seems so simple at birth: boy or girl. But genitalia don’t indicate whether the boy will fall in love with other boys, or whether the girl will grow to identify as a boy who loves girls. In Symptoms of Being Human, Riley’s biological gender is never revealed to the reader, even though Riley’s innermost feelings are revealed through Riley’s blog. Following a psychiatrist’s advice, Riley uses the blog and its growing popularity as an effective tool to help withstand the stress of a new school and Riley’s congressman father’s run for re-election. Through this online platform, Riley pours out reflections on gender fluidity (“It’s like a compass in my chest . . . the needle moves between masculine and feminine.”) and dreams of acceptance. In contrast to the positive reception that Riley finds online, school is torture, and Riley’s penchant for gender-neutral clothes attracts the worst bullies.
Through the acceptance of a LGBTQ support group and Riley’s blog, author Jeff Garvin’s groundbreaking novel packs in as much advice for genderqueer teens as possible. The most important message may be that it is acceptable to live outside the gender binary. In his author’s note, Garvin provides resources to help teens struggling with gender identity issues, as well as the often-attendant anxiety and depression.