Book Review: Symptoms of Being Human – Jeff Garvin


Title: Symptoms of Being Human (2016)
Author: Jeff Garvin
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Extent: 352 pages
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

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.


Symptoms of Being Human is the story of Riley, who on some days identifies as a boy, and other days identifies as a girl — also called gender fluidity in this book. I encountered the idea quite a while ago during my Tumblr days so it’s not entirely unfamiliar to me, but this book, through Riley, will give an easy-to-understand introduction for those unfamiliar with it and want to learn more.

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