The Symptoms of Being Human (Review, SST & Giveaway!)

The Symptoms of Being Human (Review, SST & Giveaway!)
Hi there!

Title: The Symptoms of Being Human

Author:  Jeff Garvin
Publisher:  Balzer + Bray
Published Date:  2nd February 2016
Rating: 5 Stars
*Thank you to
the publisher for the review copy*
Synopsis: 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.
Review: Wow, you guys. Just wow.
I wanted to read
this book because I wanted to know more about gender fluidity. So far, there
are only two people I have come across in my whole life who I know are gender
fluid, and if I am honest I didn’t know too much about what the two words
meant. I could turn this review into a debate of whether or not gender fluidity
is “real” or “right.” But right now I just want to review the book, so let’s
discuss this one regardless of where you stand on those viewpoints. Because
regardless of where you stand on those viewpoints, I still think you should
read this one.

Riley is a
character who sometimes feels more like a 
boy, and other times feels more like a girl. Riley’s father is a
political figure and sometimes that can be a little stressful on the family
because they have to keep up appearances all the time. But what I found
particularly clever about Riley is that we never actually get to know what
their actual gender is. Which, I think, is a good thing seeing as the aim of
this book is to try and get the reader to understand that you don’t have to
settle for one.
I was also pretty
eager to try this book because of the fact that Riley has a blog that blows up
and becomes more famous than they imagined. Being a blogger myself as well, I
could relate to that element of things. And Riley’s blog posts, which we do get
to see, were pretty interesting. They gave us a lot of insight into their
The thing that
especially made this book for me were the characters. We get to know Riley so
well, especially as they struggle from anxiety and are going through this
pretty heavy emotional period of time in this novel. But the secondary
characters were fleshed out incredibly well too. There was Solo who was this
big bundle of fun and protectiveness and Bec who was a tough but mysterious
kind of girl. I liked those two especially and how good for Riley they were,
although maybe not all the time. Even though some people can be good, we all
make mistakes.
Another important
thing was how family had such a role in this one. Maybe not the biggest family
ever since Riley is an only child, but a family all the same. Riley especially
doesn’t want to ruin their father’s campaign, and wants to keep their mother
happy, so you can understand the dilemma involving coming out as gender fluid.
Riley’s parents are just trying to understand Riley most of the time, and you
can see some of the family issues coming through, but some of the family love
as well.
Towards the end I
couldn’t stop read. I won’t give you any spoilers as to what happens, but by
the end of the book I was moved and wanting to cry and smile at the same time.
Make of that what you will!
Personally, I am (despite my previous claim) going to
say that I didn’t agree with everything in this book. Despite that, everyone
should still read it! Because whether you agree or not isn’t the point – this book
can still teach you a little something about human decency and respect
About the Author:
Before becoming a novelist, Jeff Garvin acted on TV and
toured as the lead singer of a rock band. He has a BFA in Film from Chapman
University and lives in Southern California, surrounded by adorable, shedding
Giveaway! Enter to win a signed bookplate and bookmark from Jeff Garvin! Open internationally.

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Links: Goodreads and Amazon!
Question: Do you respect other people despite having contradicting values or
beliefs than their own? Have you ever met someone gender fluid?

Olivia-Savannah x

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