Book Review: None of the Above – I. W. Gregorio

none-of-the-above-iw-gregorio-book-review

Title: None of the Above (2015)
Author: I. W. Gregorio
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Extent: 328 pages
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts”.

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

Review

How do I even begin to review for a book as important as this one? I’m not exactly new with the concept of intersex — I studied it a little in uni and since gender/sexuality studies happen to be an interest of mine, I have read other books that deal with similar themes. Very few of them, however, is as educational and informed as None of the Above.

This book is about Kristin Lattimer, who goes to the gynecologist after having sex with her boyfriend for first time and discovers that she is intersex. Before she has the time to process this, however, the whole school finds out and starts to bully her. There’s also a few references to Caster Semenya, a South African runner who was subject to controversy a couple of years back.

“That was when I realized that life was a multiple-choice test with two answers: Male and Female, And I was None Of The Above.”

The characters in this book are incredibly realistic and well-written. Obviously, not all of them respond to Kristin kindly, and the bullying she goes through is very disheartening, but we also get a really good cast of supporting characters who each has purpose in this story. The family presence is strong with this one too — Kristin’s dad is so supportive and it’s interesting to see how he deals with the situation and how different his way is to Kristin’s.

None of the Above is a book that thrives on information as power. Kristin meets with a lot of people who help her both understand and accept her diagnosis: doctors, counselors, therapists, others with the same condition. There’s an exploration on how gender, sex and sexuality are all different to one another, which brings to light the nuances of LGBT terminology that society perhaps isn’t always aware of. There are also questions of identity that our protagonist must answer for herself:

“But what does that mean, to “identify” as a girl? Just because you feel like you’re a girl doesn’t mean that you really are.”

The only real reason why I’m not giving None of the Above five stars is because of the romance. I love the love interest, but given the circumstances, their relationship does feel a little forced to me. It doesn’t detract from the book, necessarily, but certain choices the author made added unnecessary drama when the book would be just as good (or even better) without.

My final words to you all are: please read this very, very important book. The writing can sometimes be a bit introspective and the pacing a bit slow, but the exploration of the subject matter is more than worth it, and the book is a great example of a diverse read that balances authenticity, entertainment and research well.

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27 thoughts on “Book Review: None of the Above – I. W. Gregorio

  1. So happy to hear you liked this! It’s on my bookshelf. I’m dying to read it but haven’t been in the mood. I want to read it when I’m in the mood so I know I’ll really enjoy it. I also love learning about sexuality and exploring the dynamics of gender. It’s fascinating. I think it fascinates me because I always grew up knowing male and female but as I got older, I realized the world is more complicate than fitting people in only two categories. Wonderful review 😀

    Like

    • I understand, I usually wait too till I get into the mood for some books because I want to really, really enjoy them. And I’m the same – I grew up never really realising there could be a different way to think about gender, but uni has kind of overthrown that. I hope you like it if/when you get the chance to read it! 😛

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  2. Such a wonderful review, Reg, thank you for writing this 🙂 I found out about this book last year, and added it to my TBR, then… I’m ashamed to say I kind of forgot about it. Actually more and more books just piled up on it and it got buried ahah, but I’m sad it did, and I need to get back for it now. It sounds like such an important story, and I really like the questions it raises. I love these extracts you put there as well. I don’t think I have actually read a book with a protagonist like that, and facing these kind of struggles, so I’d be very, very interested to do so. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Marie! Yeah, I can understand – tbh if I hadn’t seen it in my library catalogue I probably would’ve forgotten about it as well, but thankfully I was at the right place at the right time. I highly recommend it for its relevance but also for the story inside. The protagonist is just someone you can’t help but to root for, and that usually wins a book for me. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow this sounds like a brilliant book. I’ve never actually heard of None of the Above before, or any book that deals with an intersex main characters. Honestly I don’t know much about the concept of intersex myself but if you studied gender issues, read this book, and loved it then that means it’s bound to be a true representation in a way; and that’s more than enough to convince me to add this to my to-read list. 🙂
    It’s great the characters in this story are realistic. I’m definitely interested in reading more about how Kristin deals with everything she discovers in this book, and not just the fact that she’s intersex but what happens after everyone finds out.
    Great review Reg! 🙂

    Like

    • I haven’t read a lot of books with intersex protagonists either, maybe one or two other off the top of my head? Definitely not a lot. And yeah, this was really good for me from a gender exploration perspective but I’ll admit that I didn’t study gender that in-depth, like it wasn’t a major or anything, just a subject, so there could be things I’m missing. I think most seem to like this book, though. 😛

      I hope you get the chance to pick this one up! I recommend it. 💞

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This book has been on my TBR for a while but for some reason I haven’t seen any reviews for it. I’m glad you liked it!! And it’s nice to hear that the characters were realistic because that usually makes the subject more realistic.
    Great review! 😊

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    • Thanks, Jamie! Yeah, I think it’s an underrated book for sure – not a lot of people have heard of it, which is a shame because I think it’s quite an important story. Hopefully you like it as much as I have if/when you get to pick it up. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent review! I’ll admit I’ve been putting off reading the book (despite my keen interest in the subject matter) in hopes that some respectable bloggers would review it first. I get severely disheartened by poorly written trans*-related books, and try not to subject myself to that more than strictly necessary. But now that it has your stamp of approval—even with its less than stellar romance—I feel a lot more confident about picking it up. Thank you for reading it, and for the lovely review! Hopefully many of your readers will take your advice and pick it up. =)

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  6. I had no idea that None of the Above was about a character that is intersex… but now I really, really want to read it. I don’t think I’ve read any books that explore/have characters that are intersex, but I think I should change that immediately.

    Thank you for this review, Reg! I feel like I am discovering a heck lot of new things during my visit at your blog!

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    • I highly recommend it! I think it’s a very informed and respectful exploration of intersex issues and it’s also enjoyable as a story.

      And thank YOU for your comment! I feel the same about your blog, so it’s an honour that you say so. 💞

      Liked by 1 person

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