Symptoms of Being Human

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

3.5 stars

Gender fluid: a gender identity which refers to a gender which varies over time. A gender fluid person may at any time identify as male, female, neutrois, or any other non-binary identity, or some combination of identities. Their gender can also vary at random or vary in response to different circumstances. -Source: gender wiki

This is an incredibly interesting book and I learned a lot of new terms and subjects, as well as it changed the way I think about other people. This is the story of Riley, a gender fluid individual who is struggling to cope with anxiety and other issues such as starting at a new school.

When Riley’s therapist suggests starting an anonymous blog, Riley is shocked when it becomes popular. But then someone discovers that Riley runs the blog, and everything just sort of explodes from there.

“The world isn’t binary. Everything isn’t black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it’s not a switch, it’s a dial. And it’s not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission or approval.”

I think this is an important book, like I said earlier I learned a lot from it and think others will too. My issue with it was it was more information strong than plot strong. I learned all of these things, but I don’t feel there was much of a story. The side characters were there only to enhance Riley, and there were a few personal tidbits thrown in, but they didn’t feel real to me. Just there to supplement Riley’s issues.

I also felt for a teen struggling with issues of gender fluidity that Riley was very in touch with his/her thoughts and had way more insight than a struggling teen would have (this is just my opinion everyone, I can already feel people ready to argue with me). Plus the story always had perfectly timed issues where something would happen and I found myself thinking “wow that’s convenient timing.”

I sound like a grump. I did like this book, but sitting down after reading it I found way too many head scratching moments to really love it. The surface of the story was scatched but I felt it could have gone much deeper. I wish for more with the parents, more of a development of Bec and Solo, heck even Vickers. BUT many teens will love this, and I hope the right teens read it and it changes the way they think. I know I found myself wanting to know Riley’s gender at the beginning before thinking later that it didn’t matter. And I will do my best not to put people into categories.

“I can’t blame you for trying to categorize me. It’s a human instinct. It’s why scientists are, to this day, completely flabbergasted by the duck-billed platypus: it’s furry like a mammal, but lays eggs like a bird. It defies conventional classification.
I AM THE PLATYPUS (Coo coo ka-choo)”

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