2016 Top Ten: #10, Symptoms of Being Human

10sobhAs mentioned in my last post, I’m officially launching my very first top 10 list, counting down my favourite LGBT+ Young Adult books that I read in 2016!

Coming in at Number 10, Jeff Garvin’s Symptoms of Being Human!

Here’s the blurb:

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.

I really loved this book. Riley’s story was just so moving to me, and theirs was one of the first gender fluid stories that I’ve read. We know that gender is a social construct that exists on a spectrum. Gender is forced upon us at birth because we live in a society that has been designed this way. In my case, my gender has always (for the most part) lined up with my biological sex: I am a male, I was born male, and I identify as male.

The reason I say “for the most part” above is because I have always believed gender to exist on a spectrum, much like sexuality, and I think that it’s entirely possible for anyone to be even the tiniest bit fluid.

While Riley in Symptoms of Being Human feels like a boy some days and a girl other days,  I always feel male. But I do have days where I feel more feminine than others, if that makes sense. And I have days when I feel more masculine than others as well. But I still identify as male, because that’s how I feel and have always felt.

Anyway, enough about me.

Symptoms of Being Human is a lovely book about what it means to be human, and to discover that you don’t need to fit into a specific binary like society wants you too. It’s about a brave character who does what’s right for them. And it’s a story that you will love.

Check back tomorrow for book #9!


2 thoughts on “2016 Top Ten: #10, Symptoms of Being Human

  1. Pingback: 2016 Top Ten: The Complete List and Some Honourable Mentions | Queering the Mainstream

  2. It’s interesting to read various people’s opinions about this book. This one made a big impression on me emotionally, but I can’t decide how I feel about the authenticity of it. Obviously it’s fantastic to see a gender fluid main character; I’m just slightly put off by the fact that the author is a straight cis man. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here!


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