Narrator: Tom Phelan
Published by Balzer + Bray, HarperAudio
Pub Date: February 2nd 2016
Length: 7 hrs and 47 mins
Format: Audiobook | Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
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.
If I could, I’d put this book in the hands of every person, but teens especially. Symptoms of Being Human was educational without being preachy. It was relatable and funny and sad and really, really great. I loved how while you wonder if Riley was born boy or girl, by never revealing that to us, it drives the point Riley is trying to make: we’re all human and complicated and it’s never binary. Trying to figure it out is pointless, so just go with the flow and enjoy Riley’s story and message.
This is Jeff Garvin’s debut novel and he did an amazing job. The book had great characters that were well developed. There were moments where I was laughing out loud, then there’s those where I cried (at work, no less!). And there were the moments that made me angry. Intolerance is one of those things that just makes my blood boil. And not just tolerance for the LGBTQ community but race and economic status and just all the bullshit people do to others to make them feel OTHER and that they don’t belong here. I wish kindness and fairness ruled this earth but sometimes all we have the power to change is ourselves, so let’s be kind to one another!
“You know what’s messed up? People tolerate secrecy. I see it in my life. It’s like, it’s ok to have gay feelings or trans feelings or gender fluid feelings–as long as you keep them inside. As long as you don’t “act” on them. Whatever that means. People don’t condemn you for being trans. They condemn you for embracing it.”
GO OUT AND READ THIS BOOK! Or better yet, listen to the audiobook which was incredible.
I think part of the reason this book had the effect it did on me was the amazing narration by Tom Phelan. Tom got the tone just right, but more importantly, he got Riley right. Perfect even!
Also! Pretty cool tidbit: Tom Phelan is probably best known for playing Cole, a transgender teen, on ABC’s The Fosters, a show I LOVE. (FYI – His character on that show was really moving. Check it out if you haven’t yet!)