Thank you to the wonderful people at Balzer & Bray for sending me this e-book.
TITLE: Symptoms of Being Human
AUTHOR: Jeff Garvin
I am an adult who loves reading YA, especially if it is pertinent to today's situations faced by YA. I encourage authors to write these social issues books and I especially encourage YA to read them, which is why Symptoms of Being Human drew me.
Gender fluid is not a term that I ever really heard when I was growing up, although I am sure it existed in my day, it simply wasn't acknowledged as "real" and certainly not openly talked about. I wanted to understand and try to see what someone who is gender fluid is going through, mentally, emotionally and physically.
This story eloquently, respectfully and honestly tells the story of Riley, who identifies as gender fluid. I guess, for me, one of the things that stood out the most is that while I thought that people who are gender fluid fully understand their own bodies and minds and feelings. This is not the case, as Riley, at one point in the story basically admits that its not easy to explain, not easy to feel and not easy to understand. In fact, in several instances, Riley is caught judging other people or trying to "put" a gender on them.
I learned quite a lot more about gender fluid and how difficult and stressful it can be, to accept yourself and for others to accept you. As the story clearly demonstrates, self loathing, fear and judgement are a huge part of every day life. Extremely difficult things happen to Riley, things that are hard to read but I would hazard to say that the story depicts the harsh realities of something that most people don't understand (or care to, for some).
Extremely well written, this story had me gripping my Kindle in some parts and at others, had me SCREAMING at Riley to SPEAK! This, for me, was a flaw in this book - yes, the author helps the reader understand, at least one some level, how difficult this is for Riley - but I hate that Riley never said anything - good or bad, there were never any words. In fact, I think the author should have called this book "I am not ready" because Riley said it at least 5 times that I counted and I wish I could say that Riley was talking about coming out - but in fact even after everything that happened, even after the violence - the only words were "I am not ready". It got truly annoying, especially towards the last part of the book.
I am concerned at this trend in YA lately, so many of the main characters are not able to voice their thoughts, opinions or feelings. Everything is always "stuck inside" and it scares me. Where are the strong characters with a voice? I thought Bec would be that voice here, but in the end, that did not happen.
Nonetheless, a hard and emotionally difficult book, but I loved it.